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Excessive concentration of antibiotics found in three Chinese rivers

Jan 6, 2015 14:55 IST

An excessive amount of antibiotics was found in Chinese rivers namely Yangtze, Huangpu and Pearl Rivers. The situation threatens to cause widespread antibiotic resistance.

The report related to this was released by China Central Television in the last week of December 2014.

Main Findings of the Report

• High concentration of antibiotics in the rivers was caused by illegal discharges by Shandong Lukang Pharmaceutical, one of China's largest drug producers, and the abuse of antibiotics by poultry farmers.

• The Shandong Lukang Pharmaceutical has been discharging polluted water containing over 50000 nanograms of antibiotics per litre, which is 10000 times above the level of antibiotics in untainted water.

• In a water sample taken randomly, two types of antibiotics were detected. The concentration of amoxicillin, a drug that is used to treat ear or bladder infections, was 8 nanograms per liter.

• In rivers like the Pearl, which empties into the South China Sea, and Shanghai's Huangpu River, every liter of sampled water was found to contain several hundred nanograms of antibiotics, compared with less than 20 nanograms in water in developed countries.

Effects of excessive antibiotics in groundwater

• The antibiotics traced in rivers can enter the food chain through soil and groundwater and lead to resistance to treatment of even common ailments.

• The drugs can cause bacterial resistance to antibiotics in humans and damage ecological systems.

• Excessive amounts of antibiotics in water will cause drug resistance and reduce the effectiveness of drugs.


Seventy percent of all drugs produced in China are antibiotics, compared with 30 percent in Western countries.  At least 15000 tons of drugs expire and end up in trash bins every year.

According to a report published in science journal Chinese Science Bulletin in May 2014, China's surface water contains 68 kinds of antibiotics.

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