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Time to get clean: Formal recognition of drug pollution will help to protect humans and ecosystems.

Most nations have strict controls on environmental waste, from arsenic to zinc. Yet no legal limits have been set to control pollution from drugs during their manufacture, use and disposal. That is despite evidence that pharmaceutical waste can wreak havoc in the environment — hormones found in contraceptives cause male fish to grow female sex organs, and a painkiller used in livestock has wiped out millions of vultures in India that fed on the carcasses.

The need for global action was recognized internationally for the first time last week at a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, led by the United Nations Environment Programme. The move is a small but significant development.