As much as 80% of antibiotic doses pass through the body, with most of the antibiotics used in various treatments end up in waste water which, when reaching treatment plants, is not targeted for removing antibiotics very well.
Another important source of antibiotic pollution comes from spreading manure on crop land, in addition to waste water from hospitals and antibiotic production plants.
Researchers estimate that the amount of antibiotics used globally each year exceeds 250,000 tons per year.
With this estimate, the extend of antibiotic pollution reaches troubling numbers. If 50% of an antibiotic dose leave the subject’s body, then 125,000 tons of antibiotic reach the environment yearly, finding their way into rivers, lakes, and dams.
A total of 90,000 cubic kilometers account for freshwater source, leading to a concentration of 1.4 micrograms of antibiotic per liter. Even this simplistic calculation supports the growing number of reports of concentrations of strange antibiotics in waterways.
A serious consequence of rising concentration of antibiotics in waterways is inhibition of bacterial growth, which will result in the development of antibiotic-resistant strains, scientists claim.
To combat first and then reverse the pollution with antibiotics, companies could restrict the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in animal production. Australia has some of the most stringent regulation on antibiotics use in farm animals, but other countries have to follow suit with creating and enforcing similar regulation.