Nearly half of the population took a prescription drug during the past 30 days, according to Centers for Disease Control statistics from 2007-2010. Additionally, more than 20 percent took three or more prescription drugs during that period. I’d wager that both percentages have gone up since because, as a society, we’re taking more drugs, not fewer.
If they improve our health, what could be wrong with that? Well, consider this: a potent synthetic female hormone used in many of those drugs could be harming fish and other aquatic life.
“We’re finding in our study that it can wipe out fish populations over several generations, and it’s the male fish that are most affected,” says Kristen Keteles, a toxicologist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Denver.
“Some studies have found that male fish below wastewater treatment plants, and exposed to female hormones, can lose their masculine characteristics and become indistinguishable from females. Our new study found that a potent form of the female hormone estrogen used in prescription drugs not only causes the males to look female, it also appears to be toxic to male fish and these effects may impact future generations of fish.
“Where do these hormones and medications come from? All of us. Humans excrete hormones and medications, which often end up in our rivers and streams from sewage.
“Disposing of medications by flushing can also contribute to pharmaceuticals in the environment.
“A growing human population, combined with effects of climate change like decreasing precipitation, has resulted in many streams containing higher concentrations of waste water. In fact, some streams in the west are 90% waste water. Not a nice thought if you like to kayak and fish, like I do.”
And here is how to properly dispose of medications.