The Dangers of Inappropriate Medicine Disposal to Our Water Systems

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The development of medical projects is increasing over the years. From all the research made by the experts in the field utilized with technological upgrades, they came up with various medicines that help maintain people’s health. However, once these medicines get improperly handled, several hazardous effects might occur.

Many consumers tend to dispose of their used medicines through water drainages, like flushing it down the toilet, throwing it in sinks, or discarding it through drainage systems, without knowing its adverse effects. This article will help everyone become aware of the potential dangers of inappropriate medicine disposal through water systems.

The Effects on Bodies of Water

Everybody knows about the presence of pollution in our waters, how this phenomenon harms living organisms, and its direct impact on humans and animals. But what kind of waste makes these bodies of water polluted?

Aside from tons of garbage, which are mostly plastics, and toxic chemicals from different manufacturing factories, there’s also a presence of compounds coming from perfumes, lotions, creams, and sunscreens.

However, the most dangerous ones are substances from prescription drugs and medications. Its presence in our waters highly suggests people’s lack of knowledge when it comes to throwing medicines. Hence, a proper expired medication waste procedure must be taught to prevent further contamination.

People who advocate for environmental safety and awareness are highly bothered by this category of water pollution. The chemicals in these drugs and medicines, flushed down toilets, drains, and other waterways, will reach rivers, lakes, and streams.

Moreover, our water reservoirs are not safe from this. They can also get contaminated with these harmful substances from medicinal products. Contamination can spread even further than we expect once not resolved.

Many claim that this contamination will not significantly affect human health, but it could be wrong. There are still things that we need to know about the phenomena’s impact on our health. We might even have unknowingly consumed some of these substances through the food and drinks we eat.

The Future of Aquatic Life

If there is an ecosystem that will be greatly affected by this method in medicine disposal, it will be aquatic life. The harmful chemicals can bring disturbance to this ecosystem. When this happens, many aquatic creatures’ lives will be put at high risk.

However, this is not solely because of society’s unawareness when it comes to proper medicine disposal. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that livestock farms, nursing homes, and hospitals all contribute to the continuous presence of prescription drug substances in bodies of water. Wastewater facilities and septic systems cannot filter these chemicals. Thus, their presence will remain in the more extensive waterways.

This is what devastates aquatic life, especially fish. Many studies show the impacts of these chemicals on the behavioral alteration of female-to-male ratios among fish. Estrogen, which comes from birth control pills and hormone treatments, can have a feminizing effect on male fish. Various intersex fish are also found in polluted areas.

Other pharmaceutics, such as antidepressant drugs, are also present in the brains of fishes. This can affect their natural mechanisms of living, like hunting food and their defense against predators. Studies show that fish being exposed to this kind of medication can result in delayed reflexes and reaction over nearby predators. It can lead to an imbalance in the ecosystem.

Uncertain Hazards in the Human Body

Medicinal drug contamination in water reservoirs, groundwater, lakes, rivers, and other water systems is a continuing problem. Many consumers, including facilities, are flushing used and expired medicines or discharge them through body waste onto water drainages.

Moreover, sewage treatments are not able to remove those. These substances have even ended up in the water supplies for human use.

Drinking water is also getting contaminated with these chemicals. Research shows that medicine and drug substances are traced in the water supplies of over 40 million residents in America.

The medical chemicals found in the water supplies have many sources. There are pharmaceutical substances for heart prescription, mood-stabilizers, antibiotics, hormone treatments, anti-seizure medications, contraceptives, and steroids. Moreover, there are other medicines that are not detected yet as of now.

Despite the apparent presence of these low-level medical substances in our drinking waters, its effect on human health is still unknown. Water utility companies are ensuring their water’s safety for intake. Still, there’s a potential danger lingering.

Several experts from private organizations and the government are still not certain about this issue. They are unsure if the level of medicines present in drinking water is low enough to finally discard the possible risks these can bring to human health.


Water systems are highly crucial to all living creatures. However, improper medicine disposal can cost a lot of damage to them, which can bring harmful effects. Instead of throwing these drugs on water drainages, why not surrender these drugs to take-back programs? This program collects used and expired medicines for safe and proper disposal.