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Chlorine in Water Treatment May Be Breeding Drug-Resistant ‘Superbugs’
2017-09-13 16:43:42

A new study says the chlorine used in wastewater treatment is interacting with pharmaceuticals. The mix can harm aquatic life and lead to antibiotic resistance.

It turns out that chlorine, a common disinfectant that is a staple in most water treatment plants, may be doing as much harm as good.

According to a new study presented today at the 249th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in Denver, chlorine may not be eliminating all the pharmaceutical drugs that wind up in wastewater.

In fact, as the remnants of those drugs break down, they may bond with the chlorine in new and unpredictable ways. Thus superbugs, a scourge of modern medicine, may be getting a boost from wastewater treatment plants meant to protect us from dangerous contamination.


A re-evaluation of wastewater treatment and disinfection practices may be in order.

“Treated wastewater is one of the major sources of pharmaceuticals and antibiotics in the environment,” according to Olya Keen, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the lead scientist on the new study.

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