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EU Targets Drug Water Contamination


For the first time the European Union (EU) is proposing to test pharmaceutical products in EU waters.  The Commission is proposing to add 15 chemicals to the list of 33 pollutants that are currently monitored and controlled in EU surface waters. 
The popular pain-relieving drug Diclofenac is one of three pharmaceuticals to be put on the European water watch-list, which law-makers say is another step towards improving the quality of rivers, lakes and coastal waters. 

The 15 substances include industrial chemicals as well as compounds used in biocides and plant protection products. They have been selected on the basis of scientific evidence that they may pose a significant risk to health. The proposal does not put into question the medicinal value of these substances, but addresses the potential harmful effects of their presence in the aquatic environment. 

Concentrations above the proposed standards can affect fish health, reducing successful reproduction, for example, and harming other living organisms.  Awareness of the impact of pharmaceuticals in the environment has grown considerably in recent years, and the proposal is based on the latest scientific knowledge.  The proposed 15 substances are:


* Plant protection product substances: Aclonifen, Bifenox, Cypermethrin, Dicofol, Heptachlor, Quinoxyfen


* Substances used in biocidal products: Cybutryne, Dichlorvos, Terbutryn


* Industrial chemicals: Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD)


* Combustion by-products: Dioxin and Dioxin-Like PCBs

* Pharmaceutical substances: 17 alpha-ethinylestradiol (EE2), 17 beta-estradiol (E2), Diclofenac


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