Common drugs are affecting plant growth: Study
A study has found that the drugs we release into the environment are likely to significantly impact the growth of plants.
A study has found that the drugs we release into the environment are likely to significantly impact the growth of plants. Drugs make their way into soil through a number of routes including via the use of sewage sludge as fertiliser and waste water for irrigation.
Even waste management systems cannot remove many compounds from the sewage. By assessing the impact of a range of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, the research has shown that the growth of edible crops can get affected by even a fraction of these chemicals.
"The huge amounts of pharmaceuticals we use ultimately end up in the environment yet we know very little about their effects on flora and fauna," said Clare Redshaw from the University of Exeter's medical school in Britain.
The research focused its analysis on lettuce and radish plants and tested the effects of several commonly prescribed drugs, including ibuprofen. The team looked for changes in edible plants, assessing factors such as water content, root and shoot length, overall size and how effectively the plants photosynthesised. Each drug was shown to affect the plants in very specific ways. While drugs like diclofenac affected the growth of radish roots, ibuprofen had a significant influence on the early root development of lettuce plants.
"We have not considered the impact on human health in this study but we need to improve our understanding quickly so that appropriate testing and controls can be put in place," Redshaw concluded.