An Associated Press article in the spring of 2008 reported on a five-month inquiry into the drinking water of 62 metropolitan areas and 51 smaller cities. They found that the drinking water of at least 24 American cities contains trace amounts of a wide array of pharmaceuticals and their byproducts. These include antibiotics, heart medications, psychiatric drugs, hormones such as those in birth control pills and others.
One source of this contamination results from pharmaceuticals being flushed down toilets and sinks as a method of disposal.
Municipal drinking-water supplies are regulated extensively by the Environmental Protection Agency, which sets limits on certain contaminants, but there are no federal regulations handed down that include pharmaceuticals. The 24 cities that detected pharmaceuticals through voluntary testing efforts are under no obligation to report them or treat for them. About half the utilities surveyed do not normally test for pharmaceuticals.
Environmentalists have been watching the feminization of fish increase and hypothesize the presence of hormones flushed into watersheds as a possible explanation. This is not a new phenomenon. In fact, it's only one reason why flushing meds is a no-no.
Other reasons to properly dispose of pharmaceuticals include:
DiversionPrescription medication abuse and/or theft are becoming more frequent, sometimes with fatal consequences; getting it out of the medicine cabinet is the first step in prevention. An estimated 22,000 Americans died last year alone from accidental overdoses, second only to motor vehicle accidents. More people died of accidental overdoses in New York last year than from murder. Yet our government spends not a single federal penny on overdose prevention!
Treatment InterferenceAntibiotics can wreak havoc on your septic tank, resulting in untreated sewage passing into our natural water outlets
Expired pillsPharmaceuticals have a shelf-life like most products; taking expired meds can be dangerous
According to research done by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2006, the average number of prescriptions for each person increased from 7.9 in 1994 to 12.5 in 2005. Many older or chronically ill Americans have many more. Often, after the death of a parent or loved one, surviving family members are left with large amounts of powerful and potentially dangerous narcotics.