food crops absorb toxic pharmaceuticals and personal care products from
major reports have come out in recent years about the dangers of pharmaceutical
drug residues being found in the nation's water supplies. But a new study
has shown that major American food crops like soybeans are also absorbing
these chemicals, and others, from the treated wastewater that farmers are
applying to them.
common practice for large-scale farm operations to dump billions of gallons
of treated sewage and other recycled water on crops to help fertilize them.
But this semi-treated water still contains chemical components from drugs,
creams, lotions, shampoos and other consumer products, all of which end
up in the soil.
team from the University of Toledo in Ohio decided to test whether or not
major U.S. food crops were capable of absorbing these chemicals in real-life
agricultural conditions, so they performed an experiment on soybeans, the
second most-widely grown crop in the U.S.
giving the plants water tainted with three pharmaceutical components and
two antimicrobial compounds from personal care products, the team observed
that one of the pharmaceutical drugs and both antimicrobial compounds concentrated
heavily in the plants' roots, eventually making their way into the stems
and leaves. The other two chemicals absorbed somewhat, but not as much as
first thing you have to consider with human exposure [to chemicals] through
agriculture is whether it's even possible," explained Chad Kinney,
an environmental chemist from Colorado State University in Pueblo. "That's
what was answered by this study."
to Chenxi Wu, the study lead, these chemicals could "accumulate through
the food chain, and eventually end up in human consumers."
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