US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in Environmental Science and Technology.


Recently, low levels of veterinary medicines have been detected worldwide in soils, surface waters, and groundwaters (1,2). Although the impacts of selected compounds – most notably anthelmintics and selected antibacterial compounds – have been extensively investigated (3,4), many other substances found int the environment are less publicly well understood. As a result, researches have raised questions about the impact of veterinary medicines on organisms in the environment and on human health. Several key questions will be addressed in this article. What other veterinary medicines might be in the environment, and should we be concerned about these? How do these substances behave in the environment, and do they differ from other chemical classes (e.g., pesticides)? What are the effects of long-term, low-level exposure to these medicines? Do their degradation products present environmental risks? What subtle human and environmental effects may be elicited by these drugs? Do medicines in the environment play a role in antibacterial resistance? How do these substances interact in the environment with other veterinary medicines and other contaminants?