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Do crops take up medicines from water?

The current use of regenerated water in agriculture has led to the emergence of new forms of pollutants, such as pharmaceutical compounds (PCs) which are not fully eliminated in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs).

Therefore, if the effluents of such WWTPs are to be used for agricultural irrigation, the presence of PCs must be analyzed and their concentrations determined. The main objective of this study was to evaluate the uptake of ibuprofen (IBP) in horticultural crops irrigated with WWTP effluents and its subsequent effect on human health due to their incorporation into the food chain.

The study involved five varieties of crops (lettuce, parsley, cabbage, zucchini and broccoli) grown in a greenhouse and irrigated with WWTP effluent water, in which IBP was analyzed. Of the varieties of regenerated water-irrigated horticultural crops, only the leaves of mini-romaine lettuce presented detectable levels of IBP, but without meaning any risk to human health.

Read the complete research at

González-García, Mariano & Fernández-López, Carmen. (2022). Behavior of the Uptake of Ibuprofen in Five Varieties of Horticultural Crops Irrigated with Regenerated Water. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. 108. 1-7. 10.1007/s00128-021-03387-1. 

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