Several areas of the Hudson River have been labeled hot spots for high concentrations of pharmaceuticals, according to new research by the Lamont- Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. A large portion of the drugs found in the famous New York City river treat blood pressure, cholesterol and common pains and aches.
In 2016, researchers at Columbia University identified 16 different pharmaceutical compounds from samples taken at 72 spots along the Hudson River. The area covered stretched 155 miles, from the northern waters of Troy down to the Battery in New York Harbor.
Researchers found a combination of different pharmaceuticals from drugs that treat ulcers and epilepsy to antibiotics. Some of the highest concentrations of these substances were found near sewage discharge pipes for the city of Kingston. Other potential hot spots were found near sewage outfalls near Orangetown and Yonkers, where researchers found 90 percent of the 16 compounds they tested for.
The study claims that there is currently no evidence that the compounds lurking in the river water have negative consequences for humans. However, the concentrations could potentially pose a threat to marine life in the Hudson.
“Some levels are high enough that you could be concerned about fish and other aquatic organisms,” said Andrew Juhl, an aquatic biologist at the observatory and co-author of the study.
In addition to the pharmaceutical compounds, researchers also found traces of caffeine and the artificial sweetener, sucralose. This discovery led researchers to believe that sewage is the likely source of most of the pharmaceuticals in the Hudson River.
Other compounds were traced back to blood pressure drugs and anti-ulcer medication, especially one called Zantac, as well as an anti-cholesterol drug called Lopil. Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, was also found in the river.
The study was published in the journal, Water Research.
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