Drugs down the drain

Drugs down the drain

A major public lecture held in York’s historic Merchant Adventurers’ Hall will examine how medicines get into rivers and the implications for ecological and human health.

Professor Alistair Boxall, from the University of York, will discuss “Drugs down the drain: Impacts of pharmaceuticals in the natural environment” when he presents the annual Merchant Adventurers’ Science Discovery Lecture on Thursday, 22 March.

A Professor in Environmental Science in the University’s Environment Department, Professor Boxall will explain how pharmaceuticals move from humans to surface waters and drinking water supplies, and discuss the implications for aquatic organisms and humans. He will also outline solutions to minimise the impacts on the environment.

The annual lecture, held in the historic Fossgate hall since 1997, is a platform for the University to inform the local community about discoveries made by York scientists.

Jointly hosted by the University and the Merchant Adventurers of the city of York, it highlights an important contribution which has been made to academic knowledge in the pure and applied sciences, and demonstrates how this contribution can be applied for the benefit of mankind.

Professor Boxall’s research focuses on understanding emerging and future ecological and health risks posed by chemical contaminants in the natural environment. A member of the Defra (Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) Advisory Committee on Hazardous Substances, he regularly advises national and international organisations on issues relating to chemical impacts on the environment.

In his lecture, he will focus on recent research conducted at York and elsewhere to understand how medicines reach the environment, how they are transported and distributed in rivers and how they affect aquatic organisms such as invertebrates and fish.

Professor Boxall said: “We probably all use pharmaceuticals at some stage in our life. Following use, they are excreted into the sewage system and can then pass through sewage treatment plants into surface waters.

“As pharmaceuticals are biologically active molecules, there is concern that they may adversely affect organisms in the natural environment. We may also be exposed to them when they pass into drinking water supplies.”

The lecture at the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall in York on Thursday, 22 March at 7pm is fully booked.

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