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“Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink”

August 23, 2008

Quote the Ancient Mariner by the English Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge in the early 1800’s exemplifies the concern that water can be abundant but unusable.

Preventing Pill Pollution – Keeping Drugs and Toiletries out of the Environment

For two decades, evidence has been growing that residues from pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) are continually contaminating the environment. Although details of the environmental health impacts are likely to remain sketchy for some time, it’s not too early to begin minimizing the potential for damage, says Christian Daughton of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency National Exposure Research Laboratory, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Daughton hopes this first comprehensive overview of the issue will spur discussion among the many disparate players involved in PPCPs’ life cycle–manufacturers, health care professionals, hazardous waste managers, drug enforcement officials, sewage treatment plant operators, water utility managers, funeral directors, veterinarians, homeland security officials, consumers, and many more. Many of these players historically have considered neither the ramifications of PPCP use nor opportunities for improvement in their production and consumption.

cite: Drugs and the Environment:  Stewardship & Sustainability

Since this article was written, I have posted several articles specifically targeting the growing water quality crisis.  Attention to this critical component to human survival, on this planet, receives a lot of words from concerned groups, organizations and various government agencies, who moan about diminishing drinkable water and offer suggestions for individuals and localities.  But, the causes are never stopped.  No one is actually held accountable for cleaning up water polluting messes. No one is held accountable to change their irresponsible manufacturing techniques to protect water and land from their wastes and byproducts. As much lip service that has given to this critically important topic, all the hard work is being done at local and community levels.  Since 2007, BossKitty has been persistent, trying to alert leaders and individuals to the ongoing contradictions that are ruining the chances for survival on a local, national and global scale.

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Flushing away the environment? Drugs and toiletries containing hormonally active chemicals need to be kept out of sewage systems. image credit: PhotoDisc

Outlining the problem: as revealed by research in the past two decades, … the myriad possible biological actions of PPCPs in air, soil, water, and groundwater are simply too complex to accurately predict. Furthermore, because some adverse health effects from PPCPs (particularly hormonally active drugs) appear to be quite possible, actions to minimize these effects should be considered.

He says: 1. improved packaging could extend shelf life and reduce the amount of a product that expires and must be discarded unused. 2. improving drug absorption so that smaller doses are needed and less is excreted. 3. sewage overflows into storm sewers and surface waters also could be curbed.

.. lotions, shampoos, fragrances, mouthwashes, sunscreens, and other products likely play a critical role in environmental contamination, Daughton says, because they are used in such large quantities and they readily wash off.

The pharmaceutical field also could benefit from more basic knowledge about PPCPs. 1. basic data such as the amount of PPCPs manufactured and used is unknown, 2. some of the basic facts regarding how much is metabolized, excreted, washed off, or otherwise directly disposed and leached into the environment–and possibly back into our bodies–in an altered form.

Despite such information gaps, several countries have already implemented programs that contain portions of Daughton’s suggestions. Canada, Australia, France, and Italy allow consumers to return unused drugs, for instance, which reduces the load on sewage treatment systems and landfills.

If problems are to be headed off, the process should begin soon, says Daughton. He notes that the Institute of Medicine has documented a 17-year gap from the time new medical knowledge and practices are developed to the time they are widely assimiliated into practice.

The EPA has ongoing studies specifically about Personal Care Products and Pharmaceutical Products in our drinking water.

Drugs are not the only pollutant that impact our drinking water, but, it is the largest source for toxic mixtures of drugs and hormones.  DNA from biomasses are mixed in to the equation.  For a Hollywood Horror Flick, the age of mutation has already arrived.  In the 1950s it was atomic contamination, today it is pharma/DNA/hormone contamination.  We are mutating.  The next generation of genetically altered will beget the next generation of mutants.

Ever wonder why the American Child has so many learning disabilities?  Why is there so much ADD and Psychological Dysfunction?

New York photo by BawBaw

What will our children look like after this water crisis takes its course …

RESOURCES:

Drinking Water

The quality of drinking water is critical to our health. Learn about your drinking water supply, how to monitor its quality and how to help keep it clean.

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