Products We Use Daily Are Polluting Our Streams.
Pharmaceuticals and by-products of personal care products are the top contaminants of emerging water quality concerns. According to the Alliance for the Great Lakes, studies have found a 70% increase of these contaminants in all streams over the past five years. Sources could include home septic systems, combined sewer overflows, manufacturing facilities, failing sewers and municipal sludge application to land.
Pharmaceuticals are an $80 billion industry. Half of the antibiotics used are for livestock. Manure is then applied to the land. Bacteria are the work horses of streams; breaking down pollutants. Exposure to antibiotics can kill the bacteria. Eventually, forms of bacteria will develop that are resistant to the antibiotics. This resistance can then be transferred to humans.
What can we do?
Help educate your friends and family to never flush unused pharmaceutical drugs. Take them to a recycling site – see http://rxdrugdropbox.org/
Personal Care Products The FDA has banned 19 chemicals in antibacterial soap and personal care products, but the industry has until October 1, 2018 to comply. Triclosan is at the top of the list for personal care items. There is evidence that triclosan, triclocarban and the other chemicals can disrupt hormone cycles and cause muscle weakness, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, which originally asked the FDA to ban the ingredients.
The FDA has also issued a ban on Microbeads, which is defined as any solid plastic particle less than 5mm in size and intended to be used to exfoliate or cleanse. They are often used in products like toothpastes and facial cleansers, but end up in waterways. These tiny beads contained non-degradable polymers that may take hundreds of years to break down. Aquatic life consumes these microbeads which accumulate in their gut and can cause death. Recent research by US scientists estimated that more than 8 trillion microbeads enter US aquatic habitats each day. Manufacturers must phase out the use of Microbeads by July 2019.
What can we do?
Why wait to stop using products that contain Triclosan and Microbeads? Read the ingredients of what you are buying and simply do not support companies that expose you and the environment to these harmful chemicals and beads!
These new government bans have sparked new research on “Green Chemistry”. New research is currently taking place to make drugs more biodegradable. As for the Microbeads – just use an old fashion wash cloth!!
By: Holly Utrata-Halcomb, District Administrator