Millions of tons of pharmaceutical waste is dumped into our water supply each year, according to an Associated Press investigation. Hospitals and long-term care facilities flush unused medications, putting contaminates into our drinking water. Associated Press investigators put the estimate at 271 million tons a year.
“Researchers are finding evidence that even extremely diluted concentrations of pharmaceutical residues harm fish, frogs and other aquatic species in the wild. Also, researchers report that human cells fail to grow normally in the laboratory when exposed to trace concentrations of certain drugs,” the report stated.
While some medical by-products end up in the water due to human excretion, the dumping of unused medications poses a large threat to wildlife, and to humans who drink the contaminated water. In Europe, and even in Utah, researchers were able to locate genetic mutations and antibiotic-resistant germs that may promote cancer in the waters around the hospitals.
So far there is no federal standard against dumping potentially harmful chemicals into our drinking supply. The EPA has simply asked facilities not to do so without any real consequences for poisoning Americans.
According to the Associated Press, at least 41 million people living in 24 metropolitan areas where drinking water has tested positive for trace amounts of pharmaceuticals. EPA studies report pharmaceuticals are linked to behavioral and sexual mutations in birds, amphibians and fish.
It is terrifying that there is no national law against flushing medications. Health care providers know what kind of threat medication interactions can have on patients, but the thought is not extended to those who will receive tainted water. In an age when everyone has been touched by the death of a loved one by cancer, the idea that medical facilities could be promoting the chances of innocent people becoming sick is horrific.
We already have to worry about the 4.4 pounds of trash per person in the US that is dumped into the ocean daily, as well as pesticide and fertilizer runoff from agriculture poisoning the water and causing dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico and all over the globe. The risk of mutating animals and destroying wildlife is more important than hospitals cutting costs by dumping drugs instead of paying to incinerate them!
What scares me the most is that the AP study did not reveal the cities, where pharmaceuticals are in the drinking water. I understand that it could cause a public outcry, and I say rightfully so! People should be angry when they find out laziness is leading to health effects in the environment, as well as possible cancer causing properties in the water they drink.
I think the EPA should make it a crime to contaminate water that Americans drink everyday. It should be enforced. Right now many facilities dump drugs because it is cheap. In my opinion, the cost of dumping should be a large fine or punitive action against the hospitals. That way it will cost more to dump drugs then it will for hospitals and long-term care facilities to incinerate or dispose of them less dangerously.
I am sure if you asked Americans, they would be furious that they are being poisoned due to carelessness. A lot of these environmental damages are going on because they are not reported, while many people are so beaten down by the prevalence of cancer that they accept it as inevitable. All the time I hear people say “Everything causes cancer” in a an-nihilistic mentality that nothing can be done. I do not subscribe to that philosophy. If people find out that their loved ones are suffering due to easily preventable poisons, we should do everything in our power to see that it does not continue.