High levels of painkillers, anti-inflammatories and antidepressants in UK waterways are likely to be contributing to the decline of freshwater life, a conservation charity has warned in a new analysis of scientific literature.

Conservation charity Buglife has published a new report which highlights that the presence of common medical drugs in UK waterways is likely to be affecting the reproduction, behaviour and development of freshwater invertebrates such as snail, shrimp and mussels.

Wastewater treatment works (WWTWs) are a major source of the pharmaceutical contamination, according to Buglife, with concentrations for the 14 drugs examined exceeding predicted no effect concentration (PNEC) levels in discharges between 35% to 94% of the time.