Pharmaceutical and personal care products, or PPCPs, are entering rivers from sewage treatment plants or leaching into groundwater from septic systems.
The waterways in the United States contain residues of birth control pills, antidepressants, painkillers, shampoos, and many other chemical compounds.
The EPA has found these substances, called "emerging contaminants," almost everywhere that they have looked for them.New York Times April 3, 2007 (Registration Required)
The extent and consequences of human exposure to these compounds are unknown, according to a 2005 FDA review. Scientists in a number of government and private agencies are trying to devise new ways to measure and analyze the compounds and their effects.
A number of states have added pharmaceuticals to the list of hazardous household waste products, such as leftover paint and insecticides, that must be periodically collected for safe disposal. Otherwise, there is a risk that leftover medications will be flushed down the drain.
The Ledger April 3, 2007
Finally, the news media is getting around to looking at one of the little-discussed problems with the drug-addicted health care paradigm plaguing America: How residues of drugs and personal care products are finding their way into the nation's water supplies, ending up as just one more environmental toxin.
Some of the potential concerns include:
- Some people are now exposed to traces of multiple drugs at one time, in addition to other harmful metals and chemicals in their water
- Many drugs in the water supply are known to have dangerous side effects when taken in normal prescription doses
- Drugs that were only intended for external application will now be ingested and vice versa
- Some individuals are allergic to drugs found in the water supply
- People are exposed to combinations of drugs that should never be combined
Three agencies, including the EPA, recommended patients only flush any leftover medicines down the drain "if accompanying patient information specifically instructs it is safe to do so." But considering how little people pay attention to black-box warnings on drugs, I'm very skeptical anything will change soon.
One of the major concerns here -- how water-dwelling creatures are affected by varying low levels of such contaminants -- is a huge one that could produce effects so slowly science may not recognize the problem until it's too late to do anything about it.
The best thing you can do to protect your health and environment from drugs: Take better responsibility for your health by seeking out safer treatments for your health ssues.
It is time you start Taking Control of Your Health!
13 Million in US at Increased Cancer Risk Due to Arsenic in Water
Five Common Toxic Metals to Avoid, and Where You'll Find Them
Is Your Bottled Water Really Clean?