Societies and companies are increasingly integrating environmental aspects in their activities. The realization of how dependent human health and wellbeing is of surrounding ecosystems has penetrated all dimensions of human endeavor. The sea and the balance of its ecosystem is one of the key questions for the future. This is a fact that has been recognized by state authorities, International institutions and the European Union equally. Like all water systems, the sea is a vital element for climate equilibrium. The commercial and recreational value of a healthy maritime ecosystem is immense.

Drug residues and the maritime ecosystem

Tons of drug residues are dumped into the sea each year. These are mostly metabolites from medicine regimens that patients take either at home or in a hospital setting. Hormones, antibiotics, pain killers and anti-depressive drugs constitute the bulk of the drug residues found in the maritime ecological system. These have also been shown to be very harmful for fish and other animals in that habitat. Antibiotics are of great concern, because they increase antibiotic resistance in the ecosystem, which will ultimately affect the resistance of bacteria involved in infectious diseases in humans. Consequently, the European Union has published a watch list of drugs known to be harmful for the maritime ecological system and is preparing a regulation to restrict the amount of drug residues in waste water.

Environmental drug residues are a major social problem worldwide

Antibiotic resistance is a result of repeated antibiotic treatment. Traces of antibiotics in drinking water or food (e.g. fish) consumed by humans may also cause antibiotic resistance.
Small amounts of hormones are also released into water systems from existing water treatment plants. Traces of estrogen in natural waters are known to have an adverse effect on the reproductive physiology of fish (feminization of male fish).