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Environment

FDA Petitioned Over Drugs In Water

by Britt E. Erickson
July 19, 2010 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 88, ISSUE 29

The Great Lakes Environmental Law Center and the Natural Resources Defense Council have petitioned FDA to close a loophole that exempts pharmaceutical companies from assessing the environmental impacts of new drugs. Currently, new drugs are exempt from environmental review if the concentration of the drug released into water supplies is predicted to be less than 1 ppb. That threshold is not adequate to protect public health, the environmental groups claim. The petition cites negative impacts of pharmaceuticals in water on aquatic life, including “the prevention of growth, smaller adult size, reduced egg production rates, abnormal growth patterns, and shortened life spans.” Other threats the petition highlights are antibiotic resistance, increased risk of cancer, and exposure to toxic chemical mixtures. The groups are particularly concerned about pharmaceuticals that are endocrine disrupters because they claim that such chemicals can lead to intersex fish and human health problems at levels below 1 ppb.

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