Scientists Discover 16 Active Pharmaceutical Substances in Doñana National Park
Wastewater treatment facilities were not designed with the pharmaceutical industry in mind, which may explain why they are increasingly incapable of filtering out the cacophony of drugs we now consume. After finding 16 different pharmaceutical substances in the waterways that flow through the Doñana National Park, scientists recommended that the surrounding wastewater facilities incorporate a tertiary treatment system in order to more effectively cleanse the water that is subsequently dumped into the Guadiamar River, Partido stream, and La Rocina stream.
According to Wildlife Extra, scientists from the University of Seville discovered the following pharmaceuticals in the Doñana National Park:
Ibuprofen is the most prevalent of all pharmaceutical compounds found in Doñana: 140kg of it is consumed and metabolized by human beings, and then discharged through their urine and faeces.
This discharge is then piped to the wastewater treatment plant, where only 60% of the substances are effectively removed before that water then travels to the river and streams.
Scientists warn that this contaminated water poses eco-toxicological risks to aquatic organisms, including Hydra attenueta. In a separate experiment, they discovered that exposure to such chemicals altered the genes in the liver and brain of Atlantic Salmon.
While not mentioned in this particular report, constructed wetlands – comprised of bulrushes and papyrus and other wetland organisms – have proven to be significantly more effective at filtering out substances that conventional wastewater treatment centers are unable to process. In the meantime, scientists have recommended the addition of a third treatment step that incorporates either oxidation or membrane systems to improve the quality of water discharged “24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”
“Now, the scientists will transfer these results to native species living in the water systems of Doñana in order to “better understand the way these compounds influence genetic expression,” Esteban Alonso, lead author of the study and a researcher at the Department of Analytical Chemistry at the US, tells SINC.
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