Water Conservation

Drinking a glass of water could expose you to hundreds of different medicines with each sip; learn how to protect the water supply.

Keeping Dangerous Medicines Out of the Water Supply

Painkillers, birth control, anti-depressants, vitamins and antibiotics, no we are not talking about what you find in the local pharmacy, the truth is scarier than that.  Each of these medicines among other compounds like shampoo residue and drain cleaner are what you can find in the drinking water for millions of Americans.  The presence of all of these drugs in our water supply is intensifying worries among scientists as they are not able to fully understand the long term consequences to this prolonged exposure.

Can Drugs in the Water Lead to Intersex Fish?

Keeping Dangerous Medicines Out of the Water SupplyPharmaceuticals have been linked to sexual and behavioral mutations in amphibians, birds and fish, according to studies conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Concerns were compounded when the United States Geological Survey (USGS) discovered intersex fish in the Potomac River and tributaries.  These fish were male, small and large mouth bass, though they carried immature eggs.  The scientists were unable to confirm if this was a new phenomenon caused by chemicals in the water or an existing condition, however it did renew fears of genetic mutations caused by a polluted water supply.

The Right Prescription for Water Conservation

Prescription drugs find their way into the public water supply by two primary methods.  The first method is through the excretions of human waste, this can’t be easily controlled.  The other is the improper disposal of the drugs or chemicals by flushing them down the toilet.  It is this method that is 100 percent avoidable but often overlooked.  We have compiled some helpful tips on how to properly dispose of medicines to help you go green and avoid contaminating the water supply.

  • Participate in local governmental and law enforcement drug take back days.  On April 28th 2012, over 276 tons of prescription drugs were handed over to law enforcement agencies as part of the annual Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.
  • Do not flush medications or chemicals down the toilet; this is one of the easiest solutions to implement.  Some bottles may indicate that this is safe, though iSustainableEarth.com recommends avoiding this practice.
  • Contact your local pharmacy and see if they will accept your discarded prescription medications, often they will properly dispose of the drugs and recycle the plastic containers.
  • To avoid potential illicit drug abuse, don’t trash or recycle medications in their original containers.  Instead take them out of the original bottle and mix the drugs with used coffee grounds or kitty litter as it will help absorb the drugs.

Regardless of whether you live in the city or outskirts of town, your potential exposure risk remains the same.  It is up to each person to help conserve water and reduce the amount of chemical pollutants that enter our drinking water.  Do your part and dispose of your unused prescription drugs safely and keep them out of our water.

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