Would you like some mood stabilizers and anti-convulsants with your lunch? You might be getting some in that glass of water you just ordered with your sandwich.
It’s true. Various studies have turned up trace amounts of dozens of medications that linger in the rivers, watersheds, even aquifers. So unless you’ve got a heavy-duty household water filter, and maybe even then, you and all of the rest of America are randomly drinking tiny cocktails of drugs and endocrine disruptors.
Thanks to the explosion of prescriptions that Americans use, and don’t use, every day, tons of prescription drugs end up in landfills where they leach into the ground or are flushed into the toilet by people who think that they’re getting rid of them.
But some drugs, anti-depressants and hormones (Viagra anyone?) to name two types, boomerang. Studies show that these drugs persist in water, even surviving water treatment to revisit us in our home tap or in bottled tap water. Eww. Yes?
A lot of officials who deal in drugs, from both sides of the counter, would like to curb this problem before it worsens. That’s why we have National Drug Take-Back Day, which aims to recapture the unused, expired and excess prescription drugs that Americans have stashed in their cupboards so these chemicals can be disposed of properly.
So this Saturday, April 26, find your nearest disposal station – it’s likely to be a school or police department – and get rid of your unneeded drugs in an eco-friendly way.
The Drug Enforcement Administration is helping with this take-back, which serves their agenda of getting drugs into a proper disposal system to keep them out of the wrong hands. Prescription drug abuse is a problem among teens, and a motivation for thefts that can endanger elderly people. (But that’s a story for another day.)
Don’t worry if you cannot make the date. Pharmacists across the US have united under the Dispose My Meds program to offer year-round opportunities to return unneeded prescriptions.
Check their website locator for details on finding a participating pharmacist near you.
Dispose My Meds will scare you straight about drug disposal, as they dispense info nuggets from a USA Today investigation such as these:
- More than 100 different pharmaceuticals have been detected in lakes, rivers, reservoirs and streams throughout the world.
- A vast array of pharmaceuticals — including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones — have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans.
- The New York state health department and the USGS tested the source of the city’s water, upstate. They found trace concentrations of heart medicine, antibiotics, estrogen, anti-convulsants, a mood stabilizer and a tranquilizer
- Even users of bottled water and home filtration systems don’t necessarily avoid exposure. Bottlers, some of which simply repackage tap water, do not typically treat or test for pharmaceuticals, according to the industry’s main trade group. The same goes for the makers of home filtration systems.