Drugs in Our Crops


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It has been shared numerous times throughout our media and newsfeeds, modern day society is living in a medicated world, and an overly medicated one at that. There are definitely some who need prescription drugs for their health conditions, but there are also plenty of people who abuse medication. There are consequences to those who overdo it whether it be liver failure or death, therefore it is important that we are careful of the amounts of prescribed drugs we take. However, new studies show us that monitoring the amounts of drugs that are put into our system.

Researchers at the University of Jerusalem in Israel released a study that looks at carbamazepine, a drug that is prescribed to those who have epilepsy. When take properly, a portion of this drug is released in urine. Why is this relevant? Well the majority of our crops are watered using recycled water which comes from our bath water, sink water and toilet water. If a person is taking carbamazepine, their urine will contain a small amount of it, this will then go down their toilet drain, into the recycling system, be used to water crops which another person will eat, thus also urinating out a certain portion of the drug; it is an endless cycle. So although you may be a person who refuses to take any type of prescribed drug, the truth is you have probably already been exposed to various types of medications through your food.

The use of recycled water for crops is becoming a widespread practice in places such as Australia, Israel, Spain and some places in North America. This action allows those areas who suffer from droughts to conserve drinking water for drinking purposes and allows a continuous water source for the growing of crops. But various studies have been conducted that show things such as pharmaceuticals and pathogens being passed on to our crops and what it can do to those who consume the crops. The Environmental Science & Technology released a study in which 34 adults who were considered to be healthy and not using carbamazepine; half of the group was given produce watered with drinking water while the other half was given produce watered with recycled water. After one week, every participant had parts of the drug in their urine, when at the beginning of the study, only 26 percent had it in their urine. "We also report that the carbamazepine metabolite pattern at this low exposure level differed from that observed at therapeutic doses. This ‘proof of concept’ study demonstrates that human exposure to xenobiotics occurs through ingestion of reclaimed wastewater-irrigated produce, providing real world data which could guide risk assessments and policy designed to ensure the safe use of wastewater for crop irrigation," the researchers explained. 

Because this study used such a small sample, more tests would have to be conducted before any concrete evidence could be formed. Because of the small levels that are found in the urine, it is possible that there could be no effects to a person’s health. But as more places begin to use recycled water for crops, it is definitely something that we must continue to study and learn about. 

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