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Concerns around pharmaceuticals in the environment

Water UK is leading the debate in Europe on options available for addressing the growing concerns on the environmental prevalence of pharmaceuticals. At present, we believe it is not practical to set formal regulatory standards for pharmaceutical residues in water (either for raw water or tap water) until further research on costs and benefits, supported by robust science, becomes available.

Source control measures should be the primary means of reducing the loading of medicines in sewage works from the general population rather than investing in widespread end-of-pipe wastewater treatment, with associated costs which water customers would have to meet.

There may well be cases when point source discharges can be efficiently addressed by treatment (for example from hospitals and care homes) but these should be seen as the exception, not the rule.

Pharmaceutical residues in drinking water
Water UK position paper