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Environmental impact of pharmaceutical residues

Pharmaceutical residues are not directly visible in the water, such as plastic bags or garbage, but can cause considerable damage to people and nature. The European Commission now wants to curb this and presented a new strategy on 12 March 2019.


The main objectives of the new strategy are:


  • Promoting a more careful use of medicines
  • Reduction of pharmaceutical waste
  • Promotion of environmentally friendly pharmaceuticals
  • Increased research into risks and environmental impacts


According to the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), more than 150 different active pharmaceutical ingredients have been detected in German waters. The main source of this is excrement from humans and animals, which is released into the environment via wastewater and dung.

The detected concentrations are mostly very low, so that they do not represent a risk for humans according to the WHO. In the long term, however, dangers should be better investigated, otherwise the risk of spreading resistant germs increases. Drug residues can have a toxic effect on animals or influence reproduction and behaviour. If the residues increase, it will also be more difficult to provide permanently clean drinking water.


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Source: DAZ online

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