By T. V. Padma
Studies increasingly point to the presence of pharmaceutical and personal care products in urban stretches along the Ganges River, which originates pristine in the Himalayas but is heavily polluted with industrial effluents and domestic sewage when it empties into the Bay of Bengal.
Paucity of Studies<p>There are few studies on PPCPs in Indian rivers. "Such studies are expensive, as they require sophisticated instruments," Suthar explained.</p><p>"Sewage, treated or untreated, flowing into the rivers is the main polluter," said <a href="https://manipal.pure.elsevier.com/en/persons/balakrishna-keshava" target="_blank">Keshava Balakrishna</a>, a professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, Manipal Institute of Technology. Sewage and effluent have <a href="https://eos.org/articles/drugs-in-our-water-can-leave-even-more-toxic-by-products" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">long been associated with chemical pollution</a>, as people flush medicines, cosmetics, and hygiene products down the toilet or throw them in the trash. The waste ends up in water treatment plants and landfills and then makes its way into water supplies such as the Ganges.</p><p>"Aquaculture, agricultural farms, and pharma industries can be other important sources," Balakrishna added.</p><p>In 2020, Balakrishna's team <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10661-020-08480-2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reported</a> the presence of PPCPs in two tropical rivers in southwestern India, the Swarna and Netravati, which empty into the Arabian Sea.</p><p>A 2017 <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0147651316304675?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">review</a> by a team of scientists including Balakrishna in <em>Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety</em> found higher levels of pharmaceuticals in Indian water treatment plants compared with developed countries. The review also pointed out the paucity of studies in India on the fate of pharmaceutical products in water bodies and their impact on human health, "despite India being one of the world leaders in pharmaceutical production and consumption."</p><p>The 2017 review reported that studies from other countries indicated that PPCPs in rivers could accumulate in aquatic organisms and enter the food web. Antibiotic resistance among microbes is the main threat to human and ecological health, Balakrishna said. "Low doses of antibiotics in a river can be consumed by pathogens in the river, [which then] become superbugs, and multiply."</p><p>Suthar, too, cautions about both toxicity in the food web and the emergence of antibiotic resistance in pathogens contaminating river waters. "If we add up all the individual contaminant levels for 1 liter of water, the collective dose will be very toxic, especially if they bioaccumulate in organisms, including some rare species in the Ganges such as the <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/ganges-river-dolphin" target="_blank">Ganges dolphins</a>," he said. "And microbes in the waters will become resistant to the drugs."</p><p>A 2019 <a href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.chemrev.8b00299" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">global review</a> of PPCPs in rivers reported that "no global legal maximum environmental concentrations exist for pharmaceutically active compounds," despite poor understanding of the combined acute and chronic effects of PPCPs on flora, fauna, and human health.</p><p>The global review went on to say that primary and secondary wastewater treatment plants "generally are unable to remove these pollutants, leading to their migration into drinking water supplies," and recommended advanced tertiary water treatment processes, such as oxidation and adsorption. It also suggested advanced methods for accurate and continuous monitoring of pharmaceuticals in the environment and strict regulations for effluent release.</p><p>In India, most antipollution efforts are directed at surface water treatment and focus on parameters such as chemical oxygen demand, biological oxygen demand, nitrates, and bacteria, said Suthar. "We need a policy that looks at PPCPs too."</p>
Chemical Footprints<p>The source of the Ganges is the Gangotri Glacier, high in the Himalayas less than 200 kilometers from Haridwar. The recent findings on PPCPs in the Ganges add to research documenting chemical and microplastic pollution throughout the mountain range, including the world's highest peak, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/nov/20/microplastic-pollution-found-near-summit-of-mount-everest" target="_blank">Mount Everest</a>, said <a href="https://science.jpl.nasa.gov/people/Miner/" target="_blank">Kimberley Miner</a>, a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and a research assistant professor at the Climate Change Institute, University of Maine. "Our team found PFAS [polyfluoroalkyl substances], DDT [dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane], and toxic metals on the mountain, suggesting that the chemical footprint left by trekkers may be as large as the visible trash and pollution footprint."</p><p>The new Ganges research also echoes recent studies tracing PPCPs on <a href="https://eos.org/articles/fragrances-in-an-ice-core-tell-a-story-of-human-activity" target="_blank">European glaciers</a>, where researchers traced chemical pollutants to the use of perfumes in personal care products like soap. Perfumed soaps and ointments are also associated with PPCPs in Haridwar and Rishikesh, where mass bathing events are part of tourism and pilgrimage activities.</p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/pharmaceuticals-pollute-the-ganges" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
"Industrial meat production is not only responsible for precarious working conditions, it also pushes people off their land, leads to deforestation, biodiversity loss and the use of pesticides — and is also one of the main drivers of the climate crisis."
Such were the words of Barbara Unmüssig of green think tank, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, at the Berlin presentation of the so-called "Meat Atlas 2021."
Germany Plays Leading Role in the Meat Industry<p><span>Olaf Bandt, chairman of BUND, says policymakers must take account of society's desire to </span><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/can-you-be-a-good-christian-and-eat-meat/a-55410685" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">restructure the sector</a><span>. "This requires far-reaching political realignment of agricultural policy," he said. "But there can be no agricultural transition without a food transition."</span></p><p>Bandt describes Germany as a key player in the production of pork and milk, with a 20% share of the EU market. </p><p>"Huge amounts of meat are exported," he said, adding that this reliance on international markets is having a detrimental effect on the environment, livestock and farms. "More and more animals live on ever fewer farms, further exacerbating the pollution of groundwater in those regions." </p>
Meat Devours Rainforest<p>Global population and economic growth are the drivers behind increasing demand for meat. In 1960, the planet was home to just 3 billion people and, according to the report, meat consumption at that time was around 70 million metric tons. That equated to an annual per capita global average of 23 kilograms.</p><p><span></span>By 2018, however, when the population had grown to 7.6 billion people, meat consumption had risen seven-fold to around 350 million metric tons — or a global average of 46 kilograms per person annually.</p><p>A key problem with this trend is that <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/eating-meat-is-no-longer-a-private-matter/a-55515722" target="_blank">meat production</a> requires vast areas of land. According to the German Environment Agency (UBA), the country's central environment authority, 71% of global arable land is currently used for livestock feed. That is four times the amount required for direct food growth (18%) or other raw materials such as cotton (7%) and energy crops like corn for biogas (4%). </p>
The Problem With Pesticides<p>Besides revealing the power and global impact of the international meat industry, authors of the "Meat Atlas" also illustrate links to the global chemical industry. They write that dangerous and sometimes banned pesticides are exported by large chemical companies. Among the producers and exporters of such chemicals are European players, Bayer Crop Science, BASF, and Syngenta, as well as U.S. companies Corteva and FMS. </p>
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More and more Americans are retrofitting their bathrooms with high-end bidets, allowing them to enjoy cleanliness and hygiene without creating as much paper waste. Not all bidets are created equal, however, and before deciding on a particular brand, it's important to do your homework. Take a look at our comprehensive Toto bidet review, and our reviews of Tushy and Omigo, to learn more about all of their options.
Toto USA<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/TOTO-BT500B-01-Piedmont-Vertical/dp/B00084P3GO/ref=sr_1_3?crid=ZG6AGN0U9VQL&dchild=1&keywords=toto+piedmont+bidet&qid=1613591898&sprefix=toto+piedmo%2Caps%2C188&sr=8-3" target="_blank">Toto's Piedmont bidet</a> offers an elegant, classic design, and it also comes with built-in safeguards that prevent it from ever overflowing. It is available in several color options, and will look good with any contemporary bathroom design.</p><p><strong>Why buy:</strong> This is the most affordable standalone bidet in Toto's catalog. This bidet is a good option if you are remodeling your bathroom or are building a home and want to save water and paper waste from the start. Priced starting at $533, you can find it through other retailers for around $280.</p>
Toto USA<p>The <a href="https://www.amazon.com/TOTO-BT930B-01-Vertical-Cotton/dp/B0015IVUOQ/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=toto%2Blloyd%2Bbidet&qid=1613592001&sr=8-2&th=1" target="_blank">Lloyd bidet</a> has a much bolder, "skirted" design, but it also shares the Piedmont's flushing rim and integral overflow features, which keep you from ever experiencing spillage.</p><p><strong>Why buy: </strong>This is a fancier product with a more striking appearance, and is mainly suited for a larger, more formal design. It retails for a slightly higher price point: The Lloyd model starts at $780 in total, but you can find it for $526 through other retailers.</p>
Toto USA<p>The company's flagship standalone bidet is known as the <a href="https://www.amazon.com/TOTO-BT784B-01-Clayton-Vertical/dp/B0018L9JUC/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=toto+clayton+bidet&qid=1613592108&sr=8-2" target="_blank">Clayton</a>. It includes the same overflow safeguards as the other two, and of course, each of these products is backed by Toto's longstanding commitment to excellent craftsmanship.</p><p><strong>Why buy: </strong>This is the most traditional in its visual style, and, with a number of colors to choose from, it will look great in almost any bathroom design. The Clayton starts at $734, but is available through other retailers for around $426.</p>
Toto USA<p>This electronic smart bidet seat fits onto your existing toilet bowl and offers a number of comfort features, including a heated seat, automatic air deodorizer, adjustable warm water, warm air dryer, self-cleaning wand, and a wireless remote control.</p><p><strong>Why buy:</strong> We chose the <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UCIOX2Q/ref=redir_mobile_desktop?_encoding=UTF8&aaxitk=-XjvJQOmffOcAmiCOZvtAA&hsa_cr_id=7413316040901&pd_rd_plhdr=t&pd_rd_r=0e0e7f3d-0baf-4977-85d3-663f618a76d8&pd_rd_w=Yi3yF&pd_rd_wg=LUFHB&ref_=sbx_be_s_sparkle_lsi3d_asin_1_img" target="_blank">Toto C200</a> as the overall best bidet in <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/best-bidet-toilet-seats-2650502928.html" target="_self">our review</a> of top brands. In addition to the features mentioned, its dual action oscillating and pulsating spray and pre-mist function provide a comfortable and sanitary clean.</p>
Toto USA<p>The <a href="https://www.amazon.com/TOTO-SW3046-01-Electronic-Contemporary/dp/B078GTKSXK/ref=sr_1_2?crid=15NGPC9YFANKH&dchild=1&keywords=toto+s500e&qid=1613960063&sprefix=toto+s500e%2Caps%2C171&sr=8-2" target="_blank">Toto Washlet S500e</a> bidet seat includes the features found in the C200, plus instantaneous water heating, front and rear wash functions, two-user preset memory, and the company's <a href="https://www.totousa.com/technologies/ewater" target="_blank">EWATER+ technology</a>. This system uses electrolyzed water to keep the wand and toilet bowl clean.</p><p><strong>Why buy:</strong> This high-end Toto electric bidet seat can help you reduce water and toilet paper use, and it can help reduce the need for chemical cleaning products with its EWATER+ technology.</p>
Toto USA<p>The <a href="https://www.amazon.com/TOTO-SW2014-01-Electronic-SoftClose/dp/B0165UFOGS/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=30E9Y1LAN9ZRW&dchild=1&keywords=toto+washlet+a100+elongated+bidet+toilet+seat&qid=1613589664&sprefix=toto+washlet+a100%2Caps%2C167&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUFBR1FMUTdJR1hXNUEmZW5jcnlwdGVkSWQ9QTAyNjIwOTkxUE1EWk5CQjg2QTZPJmVuY3J5cHRlZEFkSWQ9QTA0NDc1MzExSk1UMk5CQzJYVUhVJndpZGdldE5hbWU9c3BfYXRmJmFjdGlvbj1jbGlja1JlZGlyZWN0JmRvTm90TG9nQ2xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ==" target="_blank">A100</a> is an entry-level Washlet bidet attachment, but still offers numerous comfort features. It includes a heated seat with temperature control, aerated warm water with a dual action spray, and an attached arm control panel.</p><p><strong>Why buy: </strong>One of the most affordable Toto bidet options, it still lets you adjust the water temperature and pressure settings, and features rear and front cleaning functionality for a feminine wash.</p>
By Dipika Kadaba
The emergence of multiple pandemics in the animal agriculture industry over the past few decades, coupled with COVID-19's suspected origins in wildlife meat markets, has prompted renewed calls from experts to transform the global food system to prevent diseases harmful to humans.
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By Gudrun Heise
With an unknown lung disease apparently spreading in China, could there be a new outbreak akin to SARS? Not necessarily. Authorities have yet to identify it. And many respiratory illnesses are caused by viruses.
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Countries around the world are seeing a mounting threat from antibiotic resistance. After decades of overprescribing antibiotics and overusing them in factory farming, rivers are polluted with antibiotics and complications from drug-resistant infections are projected to cost $100 trillion by 2050, according to Scientific American.
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New Jersey senator and presidential hopeful Cory Booker put forth the Farm System Reform Act of 2019, in recognition of the environmental impact of industrial agriculture, which would put a stop to any new factory farms, as The Hill reported.
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By Tim Ruben Weimer
Tanja Diederen lives near Maastricht in the Netherlands. She has been suffering from Hidradenitis suppurativa for 30 years. Its a chronic skin disease in which the hair roots are inflamed under pain — often around the armpits and on the chest.
Journey Into the Unknown<p>"It tastes a bit like mushrooms," Tanja Diederen remarked as she took her morning phage dose. "When I went to Georgia, I was at first very nervous and excited, but above all disappointed about the treatment here in Holland."</p><p>After antibiotics stopped working for her, her doctor suggested that she take biopharmaceuticals, i.e. genetically engineered drugs. He had never heard of bacteriophages.</p><p>Instead, Diederen decided to look for treatment options with bacteriophages on her own, which she had heard about in a television program. </p>
The Doctor Never Heard of Phages<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjA5OTMyOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMDkyNzg5Mn0.qRW81FnFddQeCHblPbinr-ITYYThWMzcTkmyJHkLYXU/img.jpg?width=980" id="50ae5" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9ab12b7d5efd0f615a2c891f5341dd33" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
A phage model — phages are viruses, that multiply in bacteria and then destroy them.<p>She came across the <a href="http://eliava-institute.org/research/" target="_blank">Georgi-Eliava Institute</a> in Georgia, which has been researching bacteriophages since 1923 — just a few years after their discovery. Georgia has since developed into the global center of phage therapy.</p><p>During the Cold War, antibiotics were difficult to get there or anywhere in the Soviet Union. Treatment with phages was the best way to cure infectious diseases. Today, the Eliava Institute has one of the largest therapeutic collections of bacteriophages in the world.</p><p>Tanja Diederen stayed in treatment for two weeks, after which she traveled back to the Netherlands with a large suitcase full of phage tins. Since she began taking two different phages a day and applying a cream, she feels better.</p><p>She has more energy again and the small inflammations on her chest and armpits have decreased. The large inflammations come and go, but not as severe as before.</p>
"It Doesn't Feel Illegal to Me"<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjA5OTMzMi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MjU0NDkyN30.m6j4X6PqTBv-ZDBRh63x9sycHk6LdrgT6KbJa1Lq7Tc/img.jpg?width=980" id="12346" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8800327639cc2ab041ea52667ce91e73" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Communicating with the Georgian doctors was difficult for Tanja Diederen. She needed a translator.<p>Every three months Diederen travels to Belgium — 15 kilometers away — to pick up a new ration of bacteriophages sent from Georgia for 500 euros. Her health insurance doesn't pay for this. Belgium is the only Western European country where phages are allowed. In the Netherlands, as in all other countries, they can only be used in individual cases to save lives or relieve severe pain. </p><p>Her physician is solely responsible for the application.</p><p>"It doesn't feel illegal to me," said Diederen. "I am one hundred percent sure that this medicine will help many people."</p><p>Like antibiotics, bacteriophages can also lead to bacterial resistance. Their big advantage, however, is that they are always one step ahead of the bacteria and can overcome the resistance. In addition, they are always directed against a specific type of bacteria and thus leave useful bacteria undamaged, like in the intestine, for example.</p><p>Before phage treatment, it is always necessary to determine which bacteria actually trigger the disease. The phages are then produced individually for each patient — often in Georgia.</p>
Bacteriophages Permitted in Belgium<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjA5OTMzNC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2ODMzNjYzOX0.NBOrxQgb5wGeSCGpuud-87UR_xPYi0_QZN9Nqm0bDpo/img.jpg?width=980" id="21c23" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1b9e9c2603898ec71e4d05666f26454f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Professor Jean-Paul Pirnay from the Queen-Astrid Military Hospital in Brussels works with bacteriophages.<p>Such an individual medication does not meet the applicable regulations for medicinal products in any Western European country. It would take too much effort to have each individual phage formulation approved by the authorities.</p><p>Not so in Belgium. Since last year, this process can be legally circumvented by the Scientific Health Institute, in cooperation with doctors, patients, manufacturers, pharmacists and the Belgian Federal Office for Medicinal Products, issuing a certificate for the required phage ingredients. Pharmacists will then be able to use them for the manufacture of bacteriophages, subject to certain guidelines.</p><p>"We have used the existing legal framework to insert the bacteriophages," said <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/lab/Laboratory-for-Molecular-and-Cellular-Technology-Jean-Paul-Pirnay" target="_blank">Dr Jean-Paul Pirnay,</a> who works at the Queen Astrid Military Hospital in Brussels on bacteriophages.</p><p>Around 30 patients have already been treated there. Currently, the military hospital is the only place in Belgium where bacteriophages are produced.</p>
Useful Supplement to Antibiotics<p>"We need pharmaceutical companies to make the phage," says Pirnay. "A hospital can't produce all phages for a growing number of patients."</p><p>But industrial production of phages would require a clearer legal framework, and research is not yet ready.</p><p>"I believe that phages will not replace antibiotics," he said. "Both will be used together to make antibiotics more effective."</p><p>Tanja Diederen wants to continue her treatment in Brussels in the future. Communication with the Georgian doctors was difficult for her, she always needed a translator.</p><p>"I really hope that phages will soon be allowed in Europe," she said. "Going to Georgia is quite difficult and expensive."</p><p>Germany and the Netherlands are currently conducting pilot studies to see whether an individual prescription of bacteriophages would be possible. France has already imported Belgian phages and agreed to their use.</p>
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KATERYNA KON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images
One of the most widespread bacteria known to cause serious gut infections is evolving to take advantage of high-sugar diets in the West and resist disinfecting methods used in healthcare settings.
By Cosby Stone
Whenever I am asked what I do for a living, the phrase "I'm an allergist" is almost immediately followed by "So, where are all of these allergies coming from?"
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By Ketura Persellin
You've likely heard that eating meat and poultry isn't good for your health or the planet. Recent news from Washington may make meat even less palatable: Pork inspections may be taken over by the industry itself, if a Trump administration proposal goes into effect, putting tests for deadly pathogens into the hands of the industry.
By Christy Spees
On March 1, Denny's stopped purchasing chicken treated with medically important antibiotics for its U.S. restaurants. Many consumers might expect to see such promises at Whole Foods or their local farm-to-table restaurant, but why is a chain like Denny's (i.e., one that is enjoyed more for its assortment of inexpensive breakfast foods than its moral standards) joining the trend to reduce antibiotics in meat?