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Big Pharma is big on pollution

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

pharmaceutical industry pollution

Story at-a-glance -

  • The pharmaceutical industry releases 48.55 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per million dollars, which works out to about 55% greater emissions than the automotive industry
  • The pharmaceutical industry generates more emissions despite being a much smaller industry compared to the automotive sector
  • The study calculated Big Pharma to be 28 smaller, but 13% more polluting, than the automotive industry
  • Researchers tested for 14 antibiotics in rivers spread across 72 countries worldwide, finding antibiotics in 65% of the sites tested
  • Massive amounts of pharmaceutical waste are entering waterways near drug manufacturing facilities and resulting in the development of multidrug-resistant pathogens

When you think of industries with the worst environmental footprints, the agricultural and automotive industries may come to mind. Yet, the pharmaceutical sector has received little attention in terms of how their manufacturing processes are affecting the Earth.

An eye-opening study published in the Journal of Cleaner Production has changed that, however, revealing the carbon footprint of the global pharmaceutical industry — and it's a large one.

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