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SAICM Environmentally Persistent Pharmaceuticals Pollutants Video

Pharmaceuticals are chemicals we specifically design to act on living cells. They regulate, in organisms, hormonal balance and the way it metabolizes its nutrients. Pharmaceuticals even change the way signals travel between cells. In order to work, many drugs have to resist the stomach’s acid environment, so the compounds can reach their destination inside the body. That’s why they are formulated to degrade very slowly or not at all. When active pharmaceuticals pass through our bodies and enter the environment, they can become environmentally persistent pharmaceutical pollutants also known as EPPPs.

Pathogenic bacteria exposed to EPPPs, like antibiotics, may become more resistant to medication. Such antimicrobial resistance caused by chemicals in the environment is on the rise and is one of the most worrying health threats we’re facing today.

Antimicrobials find their way into the environment via direct releases from the pharmaceutical industry and through the disposal of as unused medicines from health-care facilities and pharmacies. Indirect releases occur when antimicrobials pass through treated humans or animals.

Once the substances are in the environment, they can stimulate the growth of already resistant microbes, and increase the horizontal transmission of genes that confer resistance. To make matters worse, they also promote genes’ mutations and thereby create new resistant varieties.

Pharmaceuticals are essential for human health and animal welfare and it’s SAICM goal to protect these benefits from being compromised by any negative impacts on the environment. To that end, SAICM fosters information exchange that closes knowledge gaps and creates insight and awareness of this emerging policy issue among policymakers and stakeholders.