The Bishop of Exeter received the following written answer on 27th February 2023:
The Lord Bishop of Exeter asked His Majesty’s Government what discussions they are having with water companies to mitigate the risks of antimicrobial resistance.
Lord Benyon (Con): The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Environment Agency (EA) have been working with the water industry to research the occurrence and transport of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics through wastewater treatment works as part of the industry-funded Chemical Investigations Programme. Investigations have been carried out at 10 sites across the country to understand how the different treatment processes affect the presence and prevalence of particular organisms and resistance genes. The results were published by UK Water Industry Research in February 2023. In addition, the EA has completed a study to look at the amounts of antifungal substances that remain in biosolids as one of the final products of these wastewater treatments. These results will also be published in early 2023.
The EA has also been working with water companies on chemicals investigations which have included a range of pharmaceuticals and veterinary medicines discharged from treated sewage effluent which might contribute to AMR. This work allows the EA to sift and screen any chemical substance nominated using, where available, hazard data and environmental monitoring data to prioritise whether a substance may be a possible chemical of concern in England. Many pharmaceuticals are included on this list. Monitoring also takes place for a wide range of pharmaceuticals within the water environment using a semi-quantitative screening methodology.
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