Got Drugs? Make the Connection!

By Kelly Dulka

This Saturday, September 29th, is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.  What does this have to do with the environment you ask? Well, let me tell you about a discussion I had with some friends last week.

I live in a little, rural community that happens to be a peninsula surrounded by water.  I was mentioning to a couple of my friends who have a waterfront home about the take-back day coming up.  I was surprised to hear them say that they just flush their expired prescription meds.  The homes in our little community rely on wells for our water and septic tanks/fields for waste disposal.  I explained to them how whatever we flush passes through our septic fields, into the ground, and will very likely end up in our rivers.

Prescription medications fall under the category of pharmaceuticals and personal care product pollutants (PPCPs). Even in other, less rural communities there are no municipal water treatment plants equipped to remove PPCPs from water.

So what’s the big deal? Although we aren’t exactly certain yet what the effects of these pollutants are, one thing is for sure, it can’t be helping the aquatic wildlife and ecosystems, many of which are struggling even without this additional burden.

I know my friends love the river; and enjoy both the recreational fun, and the fish and seafood it provides for us. Sometimes I think people do things because that’s the way they’ve always done things. It’s important for all of us to learn about the issue, and make the connection between our actions and the consequences on our environment.

So in the next few days, gather up those old, expired prescription medications, and on Saturday take them to a drop off center near you for proper disposal.

About the author: Kelly Dulka works in the Office of Web Communications.