Amoxicillin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic widely used for treating both human and animal diseases, and it belongs to a group that are excreted unchanged within urine and faeces; therefore, it is possible to find traces of this drug or its degradation products in environmental water bodies. In water, it is rapidly degraded by biotic and abiotic factors, yielding different intermediate products; these are suspected of being more resistant to degradation, and potentially more toxic, than the parent compound. In the water bodies, these compounds may produce toxic effects on the aquatic organisms from different trophic levels and produce an ecological imbalance. Amoxicillin may bioaccumulate in fish muscle tissues, with the possibility of the occurrence of these drugs in food, leading to a passive consumption of this antibiotic resulting in undesirable effects on consumer health such as immunoallergic responses. However, the main problem related with the presence of this antimicrobial compounds in fish tissues is the possibility of inducing bacterial resistance genes. At present, the available scientific knowledge is less than what is needed to fully assess the risks that amoxicillin pose to the environment, and it is still necessary to conduct large amount of research works before a thorough understanding of this severe environmental issue.
Part of the book: Environmental Health Risk