MIL OSI Translation. Region: Germany / Deutschland –
Source: Federation for the Environment and Nature Conservation Germany Suggestion for moderation: Medicines are an achievement for human health. But the use of pharmaceuticals has been increasing for years. Why this is problematic for the environment, I talk to Klaus Günter Steinhäuser, an expert in substance policy and chemicals at the Federation for Environment and Nature Conservation Germany (BUND). First question: Mr. Steinhäuser, why is it problematic when drug residues get into the environment? Original sound 1 (Klaus Steinhäuser, 31 sec.): “Medicines are definitely beneficial. They cure diseases and alleviate complaints by influencing the body’s own physiological processes. That is, they are highly active biologically. And if they – this is the case with many drugs – are then excreted unchanged from the sick body, then they are not easily broken down in the environment and have undesirable effects there. They get into the ground, they get into surface and groundwater and can damage living organisms. ”Second question: Medicines are mostly swallowed. How do the residues get into the environment in the first place? O-Ton 2 (Klaus Steinhäuser, 50 sec.): “The main entry pathway for drugs are human excretions, about 85 percent urine and stool. From there, the drugs reach the sewage treatment plant, where they are incompletely broken down and then end up in the rivers. Incorrect disposal by consumers is, for example, ten percent the cause of drug pollution. Many still flush drug residues down the toilet. Production as the third possible way in which pharmaceuticals get into the environment plays less of a role for us because most of the production takes place in China and India. In the case of veterinary medicinal products, excretions are also the dominant path into the environment. They end up on the ground as liquid manure and dung, are spread and, if necessary, they can also find their way into surface waters through runoff. ”Third question: What specific effects do pharmaceutical residues have in the environment? O-Ton 3 (Klaus Steinhäuser, 25 sec.):“ Let me give you some examples: Diclofenac is a popular pain reliever with an environmental quality norm of just 0.05 micrograms per liter. If this is exceeded, harmful effects for the water and the biocenosis in the water cannot be ruled out. Now this norm is often exceeded, that is, damage will probably take place and disturb the development of fish and small crustaceans. ”Fourth question: What effects do drug residues still have? O-Ton 4 (Klaus Steinhäuser, 52 sec.):“ Another example: Antibiotics in animal husbandry, they too are toxic to aquatic organisms, but the main problem is another. The use of antibiotics creates resistance. Resistant germs, sometimes even multi-resistant germs, which the WHO describes as one of the most pressing health problems. And if, as is the case, reserve antibiotics, which are urgently needed in hospitals for the treatment of diseases, are used in animal husbandry, then we have a problem with that. A third example is X-ray contrast media: Since they are non-toxic, they sound harmless at first, but they are so difficult to break down and are not held back at all in sewage treatment plants that the problem is that they continuously accumulate in the environment and that future problems can arise as a result. ”Fifth Question: What has to happen so that less drug residues get into the environment? O-Ton 5 (Klaus Steinhäuser, 43 sec.): “We believe that a whole range of measures is required. First of all, each individual is asked to please no longer flush drug residues into the toilet, but return it to the pharmacy, where it will then be properly disposed of. Doctors and pharmacists are then asked to provide information about the environmental effects of pharmaceuticals, so that they can advise patients accordingly and that, if they have the alternative, they prescribe the more environmentally friendly product and not the environmentally risky one. We also believe that there should be a ban on advertising, as is the case with tobacco products. A ban on advertising for drugs, because drugs are not lifestyle drugs. ”Sixth question: What still needs to change? O-Ton 6 (Klaus Steinhäuser, 51 sec.):“ Another problem is animal husbandry. Animal husbandry is often a factory husbandry with us, the animals are close together and diseases can therefore spread. The type of animal husbandry in this country means the high use of pharmaceuticals. A serious change in animal husbandry is therefore necessary, not only for reasons of animal welfare, but also to reduce the use of pharmaceuticals. And ultimately, our appeal is of course also directed at politics, the politics of the EU Commission and the German government. They should sharpen the approval process, because it is largely still toothless for the environment, and they should improve the wastewater treatment, be it decentralized in health care facilities or be it in central sewage treatment plants by installing a fourth purification stage. ”Seventh question: Can the O-Ton 7 (Klaus Steinhäuser, 27 sec.): “The last point, which is very close to my heart, is the demand on research and industry to develop active ingredients in the future that are more environmentally friendly than those that are common today. More environmentally friendly, for example in that they are more easily degradable and therefore cannot accumulate in the environment. This should be a development goal of industry and research, which can be paraphrased with the keyword Green Pharmacy. ”Suggestion for moderation: Thank you for the interview, Klaus Steinhäuser. He is an expert in substance policy and chemicals at BUND and spoke to us about why pharmaceutical residues are a problem in the environment.More informationTo overview
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