While the drinking water and wastewater industry are not the causes of this problem, they has become responsible for the solution.
Wastewater and drinking water treatment processes have not been designed to address pharmaceuticals, but officials are working to increase PPCP removal rates.
Communication strategies and public outreach programs are needed to better inform the public about the implications of what the scientific community is finding about PPCP effects, what state and federal officials are doing about the issues, and how citizens can help. Researchers and scientists studying the issue need better ways to share the data effectively with those that will benefit from it.
NEIWPCC understands that tracking and monitoring these issues is of high priority and will continue to keep our members apprised of all activities in this area as well as coordinate regional PPCP-related initiatives. NEIWPCC has hosted multiple conferences on PPCPs, for more information please view our PPCP Conference archive.
PCPPs have been around for decades, however their presence in the environment and implications thereof is only now a focus of our attention and research. These compounds are comprised of a diverse group of chemicals including, but not limited to:
The paths these compounds travel that ultimately deliver them to the waters of our environment can be generalized into three segments:
It is important to note that contributions to the environment from some of these sources remain poorly characterized in both quantity and quality and there are other sources that have yet to be identified.
Many states and local governments as well as water organizations are increasingly advising citizens to stop flushing pharmaceuticals and promoting the use of takeback programs and trash as the proper disposal methods of unused or unwanted medicines. A takeback event is a service, generally provided by a local organization, association, or municipality, in which unused pharmaceuticals are collected and disposed of properly (generally by incineration).
Takeback program and event organizers must adhere to various federal and state laws and regulations regarding drug collection and transportation. Alternatives to takeback events are mail-in programs by which patients can send their unused pharmaceuticals by mail to be properly disposed.
If a takeback even is not available, it is recommended to dispose of unused or unwanted pharmaceuticals in the trash. Guidelines advise patients to remove prescription drugs from their original containers and, in a non-descript container, mix them with some undesirable substance such as used coffee grounds, kitty litter, dirt, or sawdust to further discourage their use and throw the mixture away in the trash.