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Keep Pharmaceuticals Out of the Water

By David Willoughby
Gannon University Student Contributor

Even though there is no strong proof showing negative effects on the local population, prescription drugs in the local Erie water have a large effect on the environment. One impact is negatively affecting local aquatic life because they are forced to live in contaminated water. For example, birth control that has leaked into the water has caused certain kinds of fish to develop oddities in their reproductive systems, ultimately causing these fish to suffer losses.

Prescription drugs generally find their way into the water supply by being expelled as waste from a person who took the drugs. However, a sizeable portion of these drugs find their way into the water through improper means of disposal. These improper means are easily avoided in one of two ways. First, once or twice a year, the local Erie LECOM School of Pharmacy puts on a take-back event at the UPMC Hamot hospital. At this event, members of the community can easily walk in and drop off all unused left over drugs they have lying around their homes, or wherever, with no questions asked. The "take-back" event is useful for people with mass quantities of leftover unused drugs. Second, four of the local police stations have each set up MED RETURN UNITS. These units are drop boxes that any member of the community can drop off and safely discard unused leftover pharmaceuticals at any time without anyone watching. Additionally, these boxes are secure, useful for keeping the discarded drugs from getting into the hands of drug addicts, household pets, and children. Lastly, these drop boxes can be used anytime during the year.

Why Should We Properly Dispose of Prescription Drugs?

  • We don't fully know or understand the impact of pharmaceutical in our drinking water.
  • Drugs in the local water supply have already harmed populations of certain aquatic life.
  • The local water supply facility does not remove many drugs from our water supply.
  • Attending the "take back" event or one of the MED RETURN UNITS is quick, simple, low effort, and anonymous.
  • Some prescription drugs do not break down in water for a long time, which makes it is possible for the contamination levels in water to rise slowly over time.