AIIMS study finds traces of antibiotics in Yamuna waters

Flagging a cause for concern, a recent AIIMS study has found elements of antibiotics in water samples collected from Yamuna river, which experts said can impact the aquatic ecosystem and may lead to drug resistance in microbes.

AIIMS study finds traces of antibiotics in Yamuna waters

New Delhi: Flagging a cause for concern, a recent AIIMS study has found elements of antibiotics in water samples collected from Yamuna river, which experts said can impact the aquatic ecosystem and may lead to drug resistance in microbes.

Analysis was done for water samples collected from six different places on Yamuna river between Wazirabad and Kalindi Kunj under three classes of antibiotics -- Fluoroquinolone, used to treat respiratory and urinary tract infections, and Macrolides and Penicillin, a group of antibiotics used for a large range of bacterial infections like pneumonia, scarlet fever, rheumatic fever etc., said Dr Vel Pandian, professor in the pharmacology department of the premier institute.

"To our astonishment, all the water samples were found to have all kinds of antibiotics which may eventually lead to a terrible situation where infections that are responding to current antibiotic therapy may stop working in the future as the microbes will develop drug resistance.

"These drug resistant microbes could enter human bodies in different ways. For instance, if someone uses this water for washing the vegetables or growing them, the microbes may enter the body and cause several diseases which will not respond to the currently available drugs," said Pandian.

He added that these antibiotics get into the river water through human excreta, urine and via drains.

"People often throw away unused medicines in the garbage that, eventually, end up in the river via drains," he said.

Meanwhile, citing a related study, Pandian said that a person consumes 2gm to 34gm of bioactive compounds in a month. These bioactive compounds, which could be antibiotic, drug or preservatives used in the food, total up to about 450 tonnes for a population of 1.7 crore in a year in Delhi alone.

Bioactive compounds that are disposed of in water and their degraded products would be of interest while analysing the origin of diseases like diabetes and cancer, Pandian said, adding that these bioactive compounds can also behave as Endocrine disrupters and can cause metabolic diseases. 

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