Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dispose of Medicine Properly

Apparently, some people flush their leftover prescriptions down the toilet. I was totally not aware of this until I saw the recent news article stating that low levels of prescription medicines were tested in our water supply!

There were all sorts of chemicals found in the water, including low doses of hormones and mood-stabilizers. The doses were said to be too low to cause any effects, but who knows what can happen if we keep tossing our drugs down into the water?

The U.S. water treatment system is very extensive. From our drains and the storm water drains the dirty water flows into primary treatment. Primary treatment is mostly designed to remove the "nasty" stuff from our water- for example, big pieces of debris and waste, dead animals, etc. Then water is put into a tank where all the dirt and particulate matter settles down to the bottom and becomes sludge, which either goes to a landfill or is used in agriculture. The water goes through other steps, including aeration by bacteria and chlorination.

Some places have secondary treatment, where the water goes through more specialized treatment. Then the water is let out into a body of water or reservoir.

Well, there is no step that removes all of these drugs from the water! I know it is in low doses, especially dissolved in all of that water, but the one thing we should have learned is that it is best not to test the environment. Bad effects may not happen until further down the road. Who knows what these man-made chemicals can do to ecosystems?

This is an easy problem to ease. Just properly dispose of all your medicines (but I heard that you absolutely should use the entire prescription on certain substances like antibiotics, depending on your doctor's orders.)

So, now I will open the floor to my readers (if I have any). What are your thoughts on this strange and unsettling phenomenon?

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