The evils of pharmaceutical companies know no bounds. First they tell us that we have some condition we didn’t even know existed, let alone afflicted us–SADD, limp members, shaky leg syndrome, severe constipation, irritable bowels, the list goes on–and they give us drugs for these disorders. Of course, they charge us oodles and oodles of money for the drugs, and we pay the money they want because hey, we need the drugs.
Now it turns out that the drugs can be harmful to the environment, and can affect people who are not even taking them. How is this possible? Well, the drugs are in the water, that’s how. Apparently, people (and hospitals/clinics) are flushing their medicine down the drain and those chemicals are somehow ending up in the drinking supply. This begs a few questions.
One: why are people flushing their medicines down the drain? These things are expensive, and it would stand to reason that folks would want to take the medicine (thereby making the money well spent) and not waste it by dumping it into the toilet.
One a: Who thought it would be a good idea to dump this stuff down the drain?
One b: why are hospitals and clinics participating in this practice? Do they not know how to dispose of potentially hazardous materials?
Two: What kind of waste treatment plants are these contaminated waters flowing through? It seems to me that anything that gets flushed down the toilet should be treated heavily so that poisons don’t seep back into the drinking water. Of course, no treatment is 100% effective, but it still seems like the people and facilities we’ve set up to make used water drinkable again should be able to catch these potentially harmful elements before they are re-circulated back into the water cycle.
Just look what they did to this guy:
True, there are only traces of these chemicals in the water (for the moment), but studies have shown that even the smallest amount of these drugs can have a damaging effect on fish, plants, and other wildlife. And humans too. I first read about this issue in March, and then in June I read an article in Discover magazine that talked about the water cost of things. That article explored how much water it takes to produce things like a hamburger or a pair of shoes–and it showed that the water cost ofr things is extremely high–especially when we consider that the amount of usable water for drinking and agriculture
is steadily decreasing due to things like pollution from carbons, refuse, and now medications. It’s all very scary, especially since the Discover article talked about how nations need to start saving water as if it were money, so that we can be prepared for the day when there is not enough drinkable water.
Immediately I thought of Dune, and once again how prescient Frank Herbert was when he wrote the sci-fi novel about a resource needed for travel (he called it spice, I call it oil) that exists on a planet where water is truly the most sought after and important resource because there is so little of it. It is true that the world is going to hell, and this is just one more thing to help it get there faster.
In California State and local officials are teaming with the EPA for an awareness campaign about the dangers of flushing drugs down the drain, devoting a whole week to it starting on October 2nd. It’s good that they are taking action, and trying to raise awareness, but really a week. Is that all? That sounds about as effective as Earth Day. Now don’t get me wrong, every little bit helps, and Earth Day is a great sentiment, but really, that’s all it is: a sentiment. Just like this “Don’t Flush Drugs Down the Drain” week will be. Sure, people will be concerned for that week (maybe) but after that they’ll go right back to doing what they’ve been doing and flushing their drugs down the toilet again.
And why only in California? It is not the only state that has pharmaceuticals in its drinking supply. Why not make this a national thing? Sure it would take more effort, and I understand the financial crisis has folks occupied, especially now since McCain has somehow managed to convince enough people that the bailout plan that was nearly finished wasn’t a good plan after all, and they have to go back to the drawing board and start at square one.
Why not make it an international thing, since water knows no borders and what Californians flush down the toilet could end up anywhere, like Japan, or Russia, or the Czech Republic, or England? In fact, it probably will end up in all of those places and more.
This whole business is ditry and it makes me so angry that I’m shaking and having a hard time typing because the rage is building up within me.
I guess we can count this as another point for the Apocalypse, so now it’s winning wiht a score like 30,000,000 to 2, but hey, at least it still has fewer points than our national debt, or the cost of the war in Iraq. Maybe I should give us another point for that silver lining, thus making it:
We need a hero right now. I nominate this guy: