Background paper “Pharmaceuticals in the Environment”

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Residues of pharmaceuticals in water and soil can be harmful to human health
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How do pharmaceuticals get into the environment? Can residues of pharmaceuticals in water and soil harm plants, animals or even human health? What is being done to prevent this, and what can I do? The Federal Environment Agency’s background paper, which is now also available in English, sheds light on these and other questions surrounding the topic of pharmaceuticals in the environment.

Pharmaceuticals are essential for human and animal health. The cost of good medical care and the sometimes uncritical use of pharmaceuticals is increasing pollution of the environment with residues of pharmaceuticals. These are often persistent in, and can be harmful to, the environment. In order to protect our waters and soils in their functions as habitats and drinking water resources in the long term, the entry of pharmaceuticals into the environment must be limited as far as possible. In addition to optimized wastewater treatment and the development of more environmentally friendly pharmaceuticals, a conscious use of pharmaceuticals and their proper disposal play a key role. In this background paper, UBA sets out facts and contexts surrounding the topic of “pharmaceuticals in the environment” and presents different options for action to reduce their entry into the environment in easily comprehensible terms.

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