Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products as Pollutants

Pharmaceutical Drop Box
The Lebanon Police Department has a Pharmaceutical Drop Box installed in their lobby. It’s available 24 hours a day for you to turn in old, unused or discarded pharmaceutical prescriptions. Learn more>>
 
With the recent media attention given to the detection of PPCPs in drinking water, the Lebanon Water Treatment Team wanted to give you, our customers, additional information on this important topic. 

Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products as Pollutants (PPCPs) refers, in general, to any product used by individuals for personal health or cosmetic reasons or used by agribusiness to enhance growth or health of livestock. PPCPs comprise a diverse collection of thousands of chemical substances, including prescription and over-the-counter therapeutic drugs, veterinary drugs, fragrances, and cosmetics.

PPCPs have probably been present in water and the environment for as long as humans have been using them. The drugs that we take are not entirely absorbed by our bodies and are excreted and passed into wastewater and surface / source water.

With advances in technology that improved the ability to detect and quantify these chemicals, (down to one part per trillion), we can now begin to identify what effects, if any these chemicals have on human and environmental health.

While these compounds may be detected at very low levels in source waters, people regularly consume or expose themselves to products containing these compounds in much higher concentrations through medicines, food and beverage and other sources. The level in which they are detected in water systems is very small in comparison. 

The fact that a substance is detectable does not mean the substance is harmful to humans. To date, research throughout the world has not demonstrated an impact on human health from pharmaceuticals and endocrine disrupting compounds in drinking water. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency maintains an active program called the Contaminant Candidate List (CCL) to identify contaminants in public drinking water that warrant detailed study. The CCL does not currently include any personal care products or pharmaceuticals. 

While research has not demonstrated human health impacts from these compounds, this topic reminds us of how precious our source waters are and the need to protect them from harmful substances. The best and most cost-effective way to ensure safe water at the tap is to keep our source waters clean. 

The federal Office of National Drug Control Policy recommends not flushing prescription drugs down the toilet unless the accompanying patient information specifically instructs it is safe to do so. 

The City of Lebanon, Water Treatment Team is committed to providing safe drinking water. We want to assure our customers that we are paying close attention to this issue. For more information on this and other water quality issues please contact Jim Angers, Water Treatment Superintendent, at 603-448-2514.