Pharmaceuticals and Personal
Care Products in Drinking Water
to the Environmental Protection Agency, Pharmaceuticals and Personal
Care Products (PPCPs) refer to any product used by individuals
for personal health or cosmetic reasons or used by agribusiness to enhance
growth or health of livestock.
and over the counter drugs
- Veterinary drugs
- Sun-screen products
- Diagnostic agents
- Vitamins and supplements
shown that pharmaceuticals are present in our nation's groundwater
and surface water. PPCPs have collected in the water through a few
different pathways. Drugs are not entirely broken down and absorbed
by our bodies and are excreted and passed into wastewater and subsequently
surface water. PPCPs also end up in water from different disposal
methods such as being flushed down the toliet or being drained
in the sink.
to date have not found evidence of adverse human health effects, current
research shows that PPCPs in the
water can have negative impacts on ecological health. As this
research continues, there are some steps we can take now to properly
of these leftover and unwanted chemicals to prevent ecological
impact. Proper disposal
will reduce our exposure to these chemicals and can help reduce
the amount found in our
waters, including those waters used as drinking water resources.
to dispose of unused perscription and over the counter drugs:
Do not flush
prescription drugs down the toilet or drain unless the label or accompanying
information specifically instructs you to do so.
For information on drugs that should be flushed visit the FDA’s website.
of prescription drugs not labeled to be flushed, you may be able to take
drug take-back programs or other programs,
such as household hazardous waste collection events, that collect
drugs at a central location for proper disposal. Call your city
or county government’s
household trash and recycling service and ask if a drug take-back
program is available in your community.
If a drug take-back or collection program is not available:
1. Take your
prescription drugs out of their original containers.
2. Mix drugs
with an undesirable substance, such as cat litter or used coffee
3. Put the mixture into a disposable container with a lid, such as an
empty margarine tub, or into a sealable bag.
4. Conceal or remove any personal information, including Rx number, on
the empty containers by covering it with black permanent marker or duct
tape, or by scratching it off.
5. Place the sealed container with the mixture, and the empty drug containers,
in the trash.
For more information on this topic:
EPA. 2010. Pharmaceuticals and personal care products. Retrieved from
FDA. 2011. How to dispose of unused medicines. Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm101653.htm
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