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Liberal Democrats on Kent County Council

Is our waste killing the environment?

September 17, 2010 4:04 PM

Research done at Portsmouth University has shed further light on the damaging impact of pollution on ecosystems and natural habitats.

According to Dr Alex Ford, rising levels of antidepressants in coastal waters could change sea-life behaviour and potentially damage the food-chain. His research into the behaviour of shrimps exposed to the antidepressant fluoxetine, showed they are five times more likely to swim toward the light instead of away from it - making them more likely to be eaten by fish or birds, which could have devastating effects on the shrimp population.

With nearly £500 billion in drugs sold worldwide, pharmaceuticals are increasingly being released into the environment. Drugging our bodies inevitably drugs our environment, too, as many medications can pass through our bodies and waste treatment facilities virtually intact.

Prescriptions for antidepressants have risen rapidly in recent years, according to the Office for National Statistics. In 2002, there were 26.3 million antidepressant prescriptions handed out by doctors in England and Wales - yet the environmental effect of pharmaceuticals in sewage has been largely unexplored.

Catherine Bearder MEP, who is currently campaigning for greater protection of ecosystems and natural habitats, said, "this research will come as no surprise to environmental campaigners, who for a long time have tried to raise awareness of the damage caused to our environment by human waste."

"This study further strengthens the case to manage our waste responsibly in a way that will not affect the environment."

"Changes to the behaviour of animals can have devastating consequences on the food chain. Our planets' biodiversity is precious and irreplaceable. One it's gone it won't come back."

"We need to put in place proper environmental protection now."