Chemicals in PPCPs enter wastewater when you bathe or wash your hands. Drugs taken by people, pets, and farm animals, or discarded leftover meds, go down the drain or are carried by stormwater from landfills and farms and enter water sources. Municipal waste treatment plants and septic systems can’t remove them. Insufficient regulations allow toxic manufactured chemicals to build up in the environment and bioaccumulate in the food chain. Many, like manufactured fragrances and triclosan (a pesticide used in antibacterial soaps), act as endocrine disruptors. Aquatic organisms, unborn babies, and young children are most vulnerable to reproductive and developmental harm. Observed feminization and other developmental problems in aquatic animals have raised concerns about these toxic chemicals in water supplies. Antibiotic resistance is another problem. Studies have detected PPCP residues in surface and ground water and drinking water.
Safe disposal keeps unused meds out of the environment and also prevents drug abuse and unintentional poisoning. Educated citizens are using purchasing power, changing their habits and properly disposing of unused meds at collection events and take-back sites. By also sharing their knowledge with friends, families, lawmakers and their communities, they are influencing positive change.