How do prescription drugs affect the environment?
When you flush medication down the drain, it dissolves into our water supply. Water treatment plants are not able to remove medications from our water supply. If you flush antidepressants or opioids, they become toxic waste in our waterways. A national study of 60% of the Earth’s groundwater found 21 hormones and 103 pharmacueticals in our water supply (Bexfield et al., 2019).
Pets are curious creatures. When medications are left out on countertops or spilled on the floor, pets may accidentally eat them. Prescription and over-the-counter medications are one of the most common causes of pet poisonings in the U.S (AVMA, 2023). To keep your loved ones safe, keep medications locked away.
When medications are flushed down the train or even thrown in the trash, they find their way into our water systems. Unfortunately, these chemicals have detrimental effects on marine life. Studies on oysters, clams, and other shellfish found that exposure to prescription heart medications in the waterways stunted growth and development (EPA, 2016).