Our Rivers On Drugs

It’s all water down the drain, right? It is, indeed, water going down, but with a stew of pharmaceuticals and other substances. Just because we can’t see it any longer doesn’t mean it isn’t making its way into ground and surface water, negatively impacting water quality and aquatic life and fueling the rise in antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Who knew? And all you did was pull the plug.

The situation was laid out in fascinating detail by Emma J. Rosi, Ph.D., in Noble’s Community Room on October 13. Senior Scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystems in Millbrook, NY, Dr. Rosi has set up a series of artificial streams in her laboratory where she can gauge how pharmaceuticals affect aquatic life.

Pharmaceuticals, including hormonal compounds, anti-depressants, amphetamines, and antibiotics, are present in surface and ground water where they disrupt the life-cycle of fish and aquatic insects and alter the composition of stream bacteria. It is, she said, a global problem.

She added that wastewater treatment plants are not designed to filter out pharmaceuticals. Failing sewage pipes, sewer overflows, and agricultural run-off exacerbate the problem. The federal government does not require testing nor has it set limits for the level of drugs in our water.

Personal care products, all those things we use every day, like soap, shampoo, lotions, cosmetics, and in this tick-rich environment, insect spray, are rinsed off and become part of waste water. Traces of prescriptions and over the counter medications that have been ingested, but not completely metabolized, are added to the mix through our own waste.

Dr. Rosi suggested that we encourage local pharmacies to establish take-back programs that will ensure that unused medications are properly disposed of. And that we vote for candidates who support and will fund upgrades of the sewage infrastructure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go back

Recent Blog Posts View All

This is a story written by a woman who, in light of the severe PPE shortage, organized a group of volunteers to make face shields which they donate to healthcare organizations across CT's Northwest Connecticut. I was connected to the group through Elyse Harney Morris and am awed by the scope and size of the home-based project which has been driven by an inspiring and powerful will to help. This story exemplifies the theme that has been a gratifying silver lining through this pandemic: We are in this together and we will get through this together.

Jerry Baldwin is known to many throughout Connecticut’s northwest corner as a Rotarian, a banker, a father of five and a grandfather of many, a devoted community volunteer and avid golfer, but his years as a military man 55 years ago remain at his core. “The discipline factor when I finished the military was totally focused on doing well and I have always been proud to have served.”

Adam Zies-Way wanted to serve in the military since he was a child. Growing up, he was inspired by the stories about both his grandfathers’ service in World War II--one at Pearl Harbor and the other during the Berlin Airlift.

Michelle Hansen grew up in the Falls Village Fire Department. Her father served as chief and her mother was active in the Ladies Auxiliary. Like smoke from a fire, the experience permeated her. As an adult also joined the Auxiliary but in time wanted to serve in another way.