Did you know that traces of pharmaceuticals can be found in
the drinking water supply of more
than 46 million Americans and in 80 percent of U.S. streams? These include substances such as antibiotics,
anti-convulsants, pain medications, anti-depressants, sex hormones, livestock
growth hormones, cosmetics and more.
According to Allison Robinson,
director of environmental initiatives at UPMC, many
medications, especially pills and capsules, are not fully absorbed by our
bodies, so when we urinate the residue is flushed down the toilet. Also, unwanted
drugs are often poured down sinks or flushed, or sent to the landfill, where
they can leach into groundwater supplies and affect wellwater sources. Veterinary
hormones and antibiotics used for livestock can seep into our waterways from
large agriculture facility sanitization or stormwater runoff.
drinking water and wastewater treatment processes cannot remove drugs from
water. Thus, residual drugs remain in water for an unknown period. Ingestion of
trace drugs by aquatic animals and plants demonstrate the potential risk to disrupt
hormones, lower fertility, increase cancer risks and antibiotic resistance,
according to some experts.
With many risks still unknown, evidence of harmful
effects have been seen in aquatic animals. For example, more than 80 percent of male smallmouth bass in Washington, D.C.,’s
Potomac River tributaries have female parts, shellfish exposed to Prozac spawn
prematurely, and antibiotics inhibit aquatic plant growth.
How can we avoid such contaminations? Robinson suggests the following:
- Don’t flush or pour unwanted medications in the sink.
- Find a drug takeback program in your community by calling your local hospital, pharmacy, hazardous waste facility or police department.
- Purchase medications in small quantities to limit expired pills,
or ask for a trial supply.
- Buy hormone- and antibiotic-free meat,
poultry, seafood and milk.
- Learn more about smart disposal of medications.
UPMC is holding a Take Back Drugs Day on Oct. 25 at several UPMC locations. You can drop off unwanted and
expired prescription and nonprescription over-the-counter medications stored
in their original containers from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the
collection events will be held Saturday, Oct. 26. Scroll down
to "Collection Site Locator," insert your Zip
code, and a list of nearby collection sites will appear.
- Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC,
Outpatient Pharmacy Lobby (in the hospital)
- Falk Pharmacy, Falk Medical Building, Second Floor
- Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, Zero Level
- UPMC Hamot, Women's Hospital Lobby
- UPMC Mercy, Cafeteria, Second Floor
- UPMC Mercy South Side, Main Lobby
- UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, Ground Floor Atrium,
5115 Centre Avenue, Shadyside
- U.S. Steel Tower, MyHealth@Work, Floor
Labels: environment, upmc