Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pharmaceuticals in our Water

This article talks about how State Senator Susan Garrett, D-29th, of Lake Forest invited representatives from various governmental agencies including the MWRD to discuss the growing concern over pharmaceuticals in our water.

This issue of pharmaceutical chemicals winding up in our water bodies is something that I have been concerned about as well. Sewage treatment plants are not designed to fully remove drugs from treated water. Therefore, chemicals from the drugs pass through sewage treatment plants and are released back into our water bodies. Research has shown that these chemicals can cause reproductive and developmental problems in fish and other aquatic wildlife. The exact threat to human health from pharmaceuticals in our water supply is not fully known, but it is something we should continue to research and be cognizant about.

One way to help combat this issue is to properly dispose of unused and expired medication. Pharmaceuticals end up in our waterways when we flush or trash old medication. You shouldn't flush old medication down the toilet or drain or put old medication in the trash. Drugs thrown in the trash can also affect the aquatic environment by leaching into landfills and winding up in our groundwater.

Cook County has numerous permanent medication disposal locations where you can take your medications to safely dispose of them. Click here for a list of disposal locations.

Other organizations and governmental agencies such as the MWRDGC hold hazardous waste collection events where they collect medication and other hazardous material and dispose of them for you. Click here for a schedule of upcoming events.

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