What are "Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products"? Also sometimes referred to as PPCPs. This is a diverse group of bioactive chemicals that have received little attention from environmental regulators, especially in the case of our waterways. These chemicals can be found in all prescription drugs but also in products with fragrance including cosmetics, sunscreens, and other products we use every day.
View the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality recommendations for proper disposal of household medicines here DEQ Pharmaceutical Disposal Guidelines.
View the SWP report to the EPA Great Lakes National Program office GLNPO EK Report.
Pharmaceuticals including anti-depressants, pain killers and others are under the radar for pollution to our water systems. The Superior Watershed Partnership will be addressing these issues, but in the meantime here are some links to sites and articles talking about this issue:
Frequently Asked Questions
1) Are Pharmaceuticals present in the environment?
Pharmaceuticals have been found in waterways and waste water effluent throughout the world. A 2002 Geological Survey (USGS) study found pharmaceutical and personal care product contaminants in 80% of 139 streams sampled in 30 different states. While detected concentrations may be low, many may be continuously introduced to the aquatic environment. Even those pharmaceuticals that break down quickly have a quality of persistence in the environment.
2) How do pharmaceuticals enter the environment?
Residential and commercial pharmaceuticals can follow two primary pathways to the environment. The first is through human excretion into the sanitary sewer. The second is through direct disposal into septic tanks, sewers or landfills.
3) How should one properly dispose of unwanted and expired medications?
See this article on Drug Disposal Guidelines.
More Information Regarding Pharmaceuticals
Want daily updated information on pharmaceuticals in our waters? Join the PHARMWASTE listserve online.
This is a national discussion on pharmacies and our environment based out of Florida's Department of Environmental Protection.