Danger of poisoning: residues from blood pressure lowerers endanger drinking water quality

Authorities sound the alarm: high residues of blood pressure lowering endanger drinking water

For years, studies have repeatedly shown an often extremely dangerous high proportion of pharmaceutical residues in water. Experts have now reported that residues from special blood pressure lowerers in Berlin's waters also pose a risk of poisoning to humans. They suggest that doctors should prescribe medication that is as unproblematic as possible.

Pharmaceutical residues in water

In recent years, numerous studies have repeatedly shown drug residues in water. According to experts, although new processes are always being worked on, the residues can hardly be removed. Among other things, consumers are therefore repeatedly asked not to dispose of medication residues in the drain. Another contribution to solving the problem could also be the increased consideration of suitable medication alternatives.

Residues from special blood pressure lowering pose a risk of poisoning

Residues from special blood pressure lowerers in water not only pose a potential risk for aquatic animals, but are also significant for drinking water and pose a risk of poisoning for humans.

Experts from the Berliner Wasserbetriebe (BWB) and the State Office for Health and Social Affairs Berlin (LAGeSo) reported at the heart days of the German Society for Cardiology - Cardiovascular Research (DGK) in Berlin.

According to Dr. Sebastian Schimmelpfennig (BWB) and Dr. Claudia Simon (LAGeSo) has been increasingly finding highly effective, poorly biodegradable and large quantities of prescribed medicines and their residues in the water, for example sartane-type blood pressure lowerers.

Due to their specific properties and the increasing prescription quantities, these are the only blood pressure lowerers that can endanger the quality of drinking water resources in Germany.

Suitable medication alternatives

The experts therefore suggest that the treating physicians adjust the prescription practice accordingly as an "efficient measure at the source" and advocate increased attention to suitable medication alternatives, according to a DGK statement.

Because not all sartans have the same active ingredient concentrations per daily dose, the study authors recommend selecting those products within the group of sartans that are least harmful from an environmental point of view.

"Ultimately," according to the study authors, "the decision to choose the appropriate blood pressure lowering remains with the doctor in charge."

15 billion daily doses of antihypertensive drugs in Germany every year
In Germany, 15 billion daily doses of antihypertensive drugs are prescribed (2014); the average annual increase since 2007 is 4.5 percent.

The total amount of antihypertensives in Germany adds up to over 400 tons / year, of which more than half is caused by the active ingredients metoprolol and sartans.

The prescribed medication usually gets into the water cycle through the patient's excretions via sewage treatment plant surface water.

"With the Sartans, the prescribed amounts of active ingredient are almost completely found in the wastewater treatment plant process," said the study authors.

Sartans are also detected in comparatively high concentrations in surface waters, "even with bank filtration for the purpose of drinking water production, the sartans are only slightly degradable."

Berliner Wasserbetriebe supplies 3.5 million inhabitants with drinking water, 70 percent of which is drawn from bank water and groundwater enrichment from groundwater that is influenced by surface water.

For this reason, the quality of surface water has a major impact on the quality of drinking water. (ad)

Author and source information

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