Further investigation is also needed to identify sources of the contamination. There are three likely routes: human excretions containing the drug entering the water via sewage; waste from hospitals or pharmaceutical producers in the area; or expired drugs being tossed into the sea.
Dr Koagouw said: “When the level of a substance reaches a level that can interact with biological systems of living things besides humans, that is when the substance has the potential to produce harmful effects. Paracetamol has also been detected in the past decade around the Brazilian coastline, the north Portuguese coast, the western Mediterranean, and Aegean Sea.
“We are not aware of any human overdosing of paracetamol due to eating seafood - but one route of potential harm is the accumulation of contaminants in marine animals that enter our food chain. So further investigation is recommended.
“This study will also open the doors to campaigning to better sort and handle unused or expired drugs, and strengthening community and industrial waste management systems and monitoring. It will also strengthen research in the field of environmental toxicology of emerging contaminants to provide a scientific basis for making policies or regulations.”