Hormones, trace pharmaceuticals and antibiotic resistance

Hormones, antibiotics and other medicines are used for human and veterinary health, but large amounts end up in groundwater and surface waters. Livestock farms are usually not connected to a sewer network, especially in lower income countries, while sewage treatment plants often fail to remove these substances. In the end, we use this water for drinking or for irrigation, or it enters our oceans. The excessive use of antibiotics leads to the emergence and spread of micro-organisms that are resistant to these important medicines: multi-resistant bacteria that interfere with the treatment of infectious diseases. Not only that, but trace pharmaceuticals, hormones and other waste substances in water have an indirect effect on our health due to damage to the ecosystem in which we live.

Our monitoring activities allow water management authorities to map out current risks. Passive sampling allows for the detection of even very low concentrations of substances over long time periods. We use software models to predict how the various substances spread through the water system, surface waters and groundwater. This makes it possible to assess risks in the future and to predict the effect of interventions.