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Careless disposal of antibiotics could produce ‘ferocious superbugs,’ UN environment experts warn

Birds scavenging for food amidst the debris at the landfill in Danbury, Connecticut in the United States.
Birds scavenging for food amidst the debris at the landfill in Danbury, Connecticut in the United States. UN Photo/Evan Schneider (file photo)

Growing antimicrobial resistance linked to the discharge of drugs and some chemicals into the environment is one of the most worrying health threats today, according to new research from the United Nations that highlights emerging challenges and solutions in environment.

“The warning here is truly frightening: we could be spurring the development of ferocious superbugs through ignorance and carelessness,” said Erik Solheim, chief of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), on Tuesday.

“The warning here is truly frightening: we could be spurring the development of ferocious superbugs; through ignorance and carelessness,”

Erik Solheim
Chief of UN Environment

He added that studies have already linked the misuse of antibiotics in humans and agriculture over the last several decades to increasing resistance, but the role of the environment and pollution has received little attention. As such, the Frontiers Report, launched on the second day of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA), which is running through 6 December at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, looks at the environmental dimension of antimicrobial resistance in nanomaterials; marine protected areas; sand and dust storms; off-grid solar solutions; and environmental displacement – finding the role of the environment in the emergence and spread of resistance to antimicrobials particularly concerning.

“This needs priority action right now, or else we run the risk of allowing resistance to occur through the back door, with potentially terrifying consequences,” stressed Mr. Solheim.

Read the full story at UN News Centre

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Last modified on Tuesday, 05 December 2017 21:42
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