Don't Flush That!
Monday, March 02, 2009 | Author: eventer79
Drugs. Good for you (and by this, I do NOT mean "recreational medication"). But bad for you.


They are good for you when prescribed by your doctor and taken to address medical problems. Bad for you when you ingest someone ELSE'S drugs via your faucet.

You heard me right.

There are two ways for drugs to get into water. (1) The human body is obviously not 100% efficient at processing stuff. So some of whatever medication you might be taking comes out when you pee (I could say this more delicately, but what the hell for, everybody pees, right?) and goes into the wastewater system. (2) A common disposal method for leftover drugs is to flush them. And they then go into the wastewater system.

Problem: wastewater treatment plants are not designed to remove the pharmaceuticals from the water, so most of the time, they go straight through and end up back in the stream, which is your drinking water source. And just in case you are thinking, "Oh well, too bad for the person downstream" -- that is exactly what the person upstream from YOU is thinking!

So, now we've got drinking water full of hormones (from birth control), anti-depressants, steroids, whatever else people take. This is already causing real changes in the aquatic community. A recent study at NC State University placed native freshwater mussels in the stream below the wastewater outfall of a very ritzy Raleigh suburb. Turns out that water was chock-a-block full of fluoxetine (the active ingredient in Prozac -- I guess money can't buy happiness after all) and this caused the mussels to prematurely abort young and the young to suffer stunted growth rates and death.

"So what?" you say -- "I'm not a fish or a mussel." Well, what is going on here is that these substances are causing changes in reproductive and nervous systems and developmental problems. And you can bet that that can occur in people too. It's just that we are bigger and so will require bigger doses. But if we are constantly exposed, we may be able to build up those doses over time.

"Crap," you think, "this blog always scares me, I'm not reading this anymore." BUT, the point is that you can DO something about it. Ok, I'm not saying never pee, because obviously that would be a whole lot worse a lot faster than any drugs will be! But, you can dispose of your leftover prescriptions in a better way. Remove them from their bottle and mix them up with food scraps or put them in your grease jar so they cannot be stolen and reused from the trash. NEVER flush or pour down the sink.

Also, (and here's that annoying "BE HEARD" part again) contact your local wastewater authority and TELL THEM that they need to be finding out how to remove these substances from our drinking water because you do not like being dosed without your knowledge! You DO have power over your elected officials because YOU can get them voted out of office. They are supposed to be protecting your interests and making sure you have a clean, safe place to live and that includes having clean, safe water to drink and cook with!
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On March 3, 2009 at 10:38 AM , lifeshighway said...

Crap this blog always scares me... oh that has already been said. You know you take away my safe comfy feeling of ignorance.

On March 3, 2009 at 11:45 AM , eventer79 said...

Sometimes ignorance is DANGEROUS bliss. ;-)