Huge amounts of antibiotics are consumed every year. In 1954, two million pounds of antibiotics were produced in the US. Today, that figure is more than 50 million . One statistic released by the FDA suggests that ~30 million pounds of antibiotics are used by livestock for growth promotion and prevention (prophylaxis) .
This massive usage of antibiotics is having a toll on the environment as residual antibiotics from human and animal use can enter the environment in many ways. The 3 primary ways are :
1) Wastewater effluent discharge
2) Human/animal waste run off from land
As a result of these sorts of processes, a large variety of antibiotics have been detected in wastewater effluents and natural waters. Microscopic elements of antibiotics are being transported to reservoirs supplying source water to drinking water treatment plants . Drinking water treatment plants are unable to remove all the antibiotics and so our drinking water contains trace amounts of a variety of antibiotics. The question has yet to be answered but I am certain it is not favourable: What is the long term impact on human and even animal health of chronic low-level antibiotic exposure in our drinking water? Can this be a factor contributing to the higher cancer incident rates that we are observing? Finally: how do we remove trace amounts of a large number of antibiotics from being in our drinking water?
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