Pharmaceutical drugs are constantly entering the natural environment. Leftover prescriptions are often flushed into plumbing systems, and there can be residual traces of medicine in human waste. This means that rivers, streams and agricultural soils can be polluted with antibiotics, antidepressants, analgesics and cancer-chemotherapy agents. This can have unforeseen effects on the ecosystems, the biodiversity that lives in them, and our own health. 

CEH works to better understand the impacts of drugs in our environment. Among other things, we research:

  • how ibuprofen harms fish.
  • whether chemotherapy drugs could return to us in our drinking water.  
  • the impacts of influenza medicine (consumption by wildfowl could be leading to a drug-resistant strain of influenza). 
  • new drugs, such as investigating how a tick's anti-clotting abilities can strengthen heart attack and clotting medicines. 

CEH work on drugs


The River Thames Initiative

Research Facilities

Centralised Analytical Chemistry Group: Organics

Dr Andrew Singer
A growing problem for human and animal health
Endocrine map - Rivers
Professor Andrew Johnson talks about chemicals and the environment
Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme logo
Long-term monitoring of contaminant levels in selected species of predatory birds
Thames Initiative monitoring sites
An intensive study of the changing water quality of the Thames from the Cotswolds to Windsor