Europe is facing a large-scale water pollution crisis. A new study from Greenpeace revealed that pesticides and antibiotics are contaminating European waterways at an alarming rate, endangering the lives of wildlife and making microorganisms more resistant to drugs.
The study, which was conducted out of a lab in the University of Exeter, found 100 pesticides and 21 drug variations in 29 different water sources spread throughout Europe. A total of 10 European nations, including the U.K., were featured in the project. Around half of the waterways in the study had pesticide levels that were above predefined limits, while a quarter of the substances discovered have been banned.
Scientists found that the high levels of contamination have created a cocktail of dangerous chemicals, which could have devastating results. Previous research has linked pesticides to population decline in insects and birds, which ingest the harmful chemicals after eating them.
“The importance of our new work is demonstrating the prevalence of biologically active chemicals in waterways all over Europe,” Greenpeace scientist Paul Johnston shared. “There is the potential for ecosystemic effects.”
In light of the rampant water contamination, several companies that make pesticides have addressed the new report. Syngenta, a world leader in pesticide production, revealed that it is implementing a plan to reduce pollution in waterways. The company plans to work with farmers to make sure pesticides are kept out of water sources. Bayer also released a statement promising to release its findings on products that contain glyphosate. Bayer said that it will practice better transparency in the future, ensuring customers that its products are safe to use. But just last month, a jury found that Roundup, a product manufactured by Bayer, was a main cause of cancer for a man in California.
This, of course, is not the first study to find high concentrations of pesticides and antibiotics in waterways. Multiple studies over the years have had similar findings, and scientists are encouraging farmers throughout Europe to use less pesticides on their land.
If farmers heed the warnings and companies come out with more eco-friendly products, scientists are optimistic that we can curb water pollution in the years to come.
Via The Guardian
Image via Dominic Hargreaves