WHAT ARE PPCPS?
PPCPs stand for Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products. They include:
- Prescription and over-the-counter drugs
- Veterinary drugs
- Sun-screen products
- Diagnostic agents
- Nutraceuticals (e.g., vitamins)
WHY CARE ABOUT PPCPS?
By themselves, PPCPs are good for us when properly used. The problem with PPCPs occurs when they are found in our water, because then we consume them without meaning to. This contamination of our water can have nasty consequences not only on our health, but also on the health of the environment.
IMPACTS ON HUMAN HEALTH
Pharmaceuticals (including antibiotics, antidepressants and sex hormones) have been found in the water supplies of at least 41 million Americans. Since the concentration levels of these substances are so low (generally parts per trillion), they are far below prescription dosages. However, there is growing concern that these chemicals could contribute to health problems. Also, many pharmaceuticals sold on the streets or consumed by young people come from home medicine cabinets. Proper disposal of PPCPs can prevent misuse of pharmaceuticals.
IMPACTS ON ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
While PPCPs may have an impact on human health, they have a much greater impact on fish and other aquatic wildlife. These organisms are more susceptible to problems from PPCPs because they have continual exposures, multi-generational exposures, and exposure to higher concentrations of PPCPs in untreated water.
Biological impacts on wildlife include:
- feminization of male fish or masculinization of female fish
- delayed sexual development in fish
- delayed metamorphosis in frogs
- embryo mortality
- abnormal hormone levels
- impaired reproductive systems and immune systems
- structural and neurological damage
SOURCES OF PPCPS
PPCPs get into our water from many different sources. These include:
- pharmaceutical industries
- medical facilities
- veterinary drug use (especially antibiotics and steroids)
- agricultural areas
HOW TO PROPERLY DISPOSE OF PPCPS
Don't Flush PPCPs Down the Toilet!
- Find a permanent disposal bin near you
- Attend a "Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet" event near you (generally in April and October)
If the above options are not available safely dispose of PPCPs in your household by:
- Removing the prescription label
- Crushing up the pills
- Mixing the PPCPs with undesirables such as kitty litter or coffee grounds
- Sealing in a plastic bag
- Taking it out on the day trash is picked up