05-12 | CDAH Team
People eat vegetables and fruits, assuming that they are eating healthy; and they are hardly concerned about the process or the method of cultivation. However, the findings of a recent research are enough to bother anybody about the cultivation process.
A recent study by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Hadassah Medical Center revealed that eating vegetables and fruits cultivated in soils supplied with reclaimed wastewater exposes people to very low quantities of carbamazepine, an anti-epileptic drug commonly found in wastewater emissions and harmful for mentally ill people.
Though carbamazepine is mostly prescribed for treatment of seizures and nerve pain, medical practitioners must make sure that the patients put on the medication do not have a history of mental illnesses as the medication can aggravate the illness. People suffering from any mental illnesses should be careful not to consume such veggies for a long-term.
Some other adverse effects of taking carbamazepine is that it triggers recurring suicidal thoughts, depression, severe anxiousness, along with high risk of panic attacks. Using carbamazepine is also related to memory problems. Though carbamazepine has no addictive properties, its sudden discontinuation can cause withdrawal symptoms, indicating mania or depressive disorder.
The paucity of fresh water throughout the world has led many countries to reuse waste water as a substitute source of water for crop irrigation. Despite it being a reliable source of providing the necessary water for cultivation, the presence of pharmaceuticals in treated discharges has raised concerns over its effect on consumers who eat vegetables and fruits grown in it. The probability of humans being exposed to pharmaceuticals led the scientists to conduct the research, titled “Human Exposure to Wastewater-Derived Pharmaceuticals in Fresh Produce: A Randomized Controlled Trial Focusing on Carbamazepine.”
For the study, the scientists divided 34 men and women into two groups. The first group was given access to the produce supplied with waste water for the first week, and then given vegetables irrigated with fresh water for the consecutive week. The same procedure was followed with the second group, but in the opposite sequence. The respondents ate the produce, including veggies like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and lettuce, as per their normal diet and took bottled water throughout the process of research to counteract the impact of water contamination.
The carbamazepine levels in the fresh produce and respondents’ urine was assessed. Lead author of the study Prof. Ora Paltiel, director, the Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine, said, “Treated wastewater-irrigated produce exhibited substantially higher carbamazepine levels than fresh water-irrigated produce. It is evident that those who consume produce grown in soil irrigated with treated wastewater increase their exposure to the drug. Though the levels detected were much lower than in patients who consume the drug, it is important to assess the exposure in commercially available produce.”
The observations showed that humans are exposed to certain pharmaceutical drugs after consuming crop produce irrigated with water containing those medicines. The study, published online in the journal Environmental Science and Technology in March 2016, is the first of its kind to address exposure of healthy humans to pharmaceuticals unknowingly and manifestation of the impact of the drugs as a result of consumption of food items.
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