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Sewage system in Taiwan highly tainted with antibiotics

2012/01/11 19:29:46

Taipei, Jan. 11 (CNA) The amount of antibiotics found in Taiwan's sewage system is hundreds of times the amounts found in sewage systems in Europe and the United States, a hospital official said Wednesday.

The amounts of sulfonamides, tetracyclines and quinolone antibiotics found in the country's sewage system are 125 times, 143 times, and 579 times, respectively, those found in the sewage systems in Europe and the U.S., said Kao Shu-min, a section chief of medicine department at National Cheng Kung University Hospital (NCKUH), citingDepartment of Health research results.

When such tainted sewage is released into rivers and the sea, fish are tainted with the antibiotics, as are viruses in the environment, which will eventually develop resistance to antibiotics, she said.

According to Kao, the high percentage of antibiotics in the sewage system has "a lot to do" with lack of knowledge on the part of the public on how to deal with leftover medicine.

Some simply throw expired medicine into waste bins, flush them down the toilet or down the drain, she noted.

Unused medicine should be sent back to their point of origin for professional handling, Kao said. She did not offer an explanation as to how such quantities of unused prescription drugs end up in the hands of the public in the first place. Such products are generally only available from doctors.

(By Chang Jung-hsiang and Ann Chen)