Current conditions of hazardous chemicals exposure and study of their - As medical drugs used for public health and livestock hygiene are flowing into the environment, there are increasing concerns for the implications at home and abroad. International organizations including World Health Organization (WHO), and the United States and the European Union are making persistent efforts to examine the impact of the chemicals on the environment and seek the way to deal with them. - In addition, the U.S. and the E.U. make it institutional to submit results of the environmental effects of the medicines which have possibilities of environmental hazards. Moreover, the management of the chemicals was adopted as an agenda in the 2011 International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM). - Accordingly, we at the Ministry of Environment established the 2008-2012 comprehensive countermeasures for management of antibiotic resistance in the cooperation of the relative authorities. From 2008 we have studied how to analyze the residual chemicals, carried out the fact-finding survey, investigated the source of the residual chemicals, studied how to treat them, assessed the environmental effect of the residual chemicals, and implemented the phased program to collect and treat the household waste medicines. - We have also published a manual guide which gives instructions to analyze chemicals from environmental samples, carried out the research on the actual condition of residuals according to each step, investigated the main outlets in the sewage and waste water treatment plants, evaluated the environmental impact of the main 25 chemicals, and implemented the nation-wide collection of waste medicines. With these efforts, we relieved the public anxiety over the environmental impact of the chemicals, reaped achievements to secure the scientific basis so as to lay the groundwork for a preventive management in the future. In 2008, we started the research on the conditions of residual chemicals in the domestic environment, investigating chemicals on the 40 spots of streams, 4 spots of sediments. Beside that, the research has been expanded to the extent of including the 4 spots of sediments and 20 spots for drinking water in 2009 and 10 spots of underground water in 2011, and 30 spots on the soil in 2012. Further, number of chemicals for the research also increased to 42. From 2008 to 2012 the research was conducted on the level of 50 residual chemicals with the samples taken from the 40 spots of the main streams. As a result, the residual level was turned out to be 0.01~0.1 μg/L, and a diverse kinds of chemicals was found mainly including antibiotics and anti-inflammatory. On the examination over what is the main culprit for releasing chemicals into the environment, 10 sewage treatment plants and 4 livestock waste water disposal plants were strictly scrutinized on every step of the treatment in 2008, 25 pharmaceutical factories and sewage plants respectively in 2009, 2 livestock complex and 3 slaughter houses in 2010 and 6 disposal facilities of excreata in 2011 and 2 resource recovery plants in 2011. In 2012 we also carried out a verification program of the treatment process for 2 sewage treatment plants. For the assessment of the environmental risk, we have conducted the ecological toxicity test on microorganism, water flea, and fishes, selecting chemicals-three in 2008, six in 2009, five in 2010 and 2011, and nine in 2012- based on the amount of domestic use and the condition of the residuals. According to the assessment, the possibility of doing harm was proven to be scarce as the index of the harmfulness was below 1. The European Committee in 2012 has included Diclofenac, the anti-inflammatory, and estradiol-17β and 17-ethynylestradiol, the hormone drugs into the items of the water quality inspection. The Ministry of Environment has come up with the second comprehensive countermeasures for the management of the antibiotic resistance on the basis of the results from the first countermeasures conducted from 2008 to 2012. It has a plan to implement a phased investigation into antibiotic resistance, metabolome, and mixed toxicity step by step. To conduct the calculation of how many people are exposed to the electromagnetic and the survey of health impact in accordance with the 10 year comprehensive plan for environmental health, we are now researching on main exposures in daily lives such as extremely low frequency, radio frequency to fine out the exposures, and number of people exposed to the electromagnetic wave, and the survey of how children are using cell phones are also in progress. According to the findings in a while, the level of exposures from the power transmission and distribution lines in daily lives are far below the domestic standard of human body protection stated in the Notification of the Korea Communications Commission. For preventive measures, the ministry is planning to implement the health impact survey of the electromagnetic wave, come up with the long term road-map to lower the level of exposure and work on a systematic research and study. Source : The Ministry of Environment(


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