Wastewater treatment is a seeping health timebomb

In addition to dangerous chemicals and illicit drugs ending up in our rivers through sewage treatment, the greatest danger could come from the presence of antimicrobials

Andrew C Singer, senior scientist, Natural Environment Research Council’s Centre for Ecology & HydrologyRivers have been and remain civilisation’s wastewater treatment system. Even a superficial understanding of the anthropogenic inputs to our rivers would be sufficient to conclude that our waterways have changed chemically and biologically. Despite the importance of our rivers for the provision of drinking water, habitat, irrigation, transportation and recreation, most of the public are unlikely to think about them until a raw-sewage spill kills fish in a local river or they hear about a celebrity like David Walliams getting 'Thames Tummy' after swimming in the River Thames. These rare, fleeting events could be the only time when the public wonder about river water quality.

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