to the emerging problems of PPCPs in the environment are complex given
the extremely large number of relatively unstudied synthetic chemicals
that are currently manufactured and used throughout the world.
Fortunately, along with the emerging issue of PPCPs is an emerging
awareness that entirely new approaches are needed to deal with drugs
and personal care products.
Instead of the public bearing the
burden of proof for testing and establishing permissible limits for
many thousands of chemicals, the view is emerging that upfront pollution
prevention through joint action between manufacturers, government,
and consumers is better and cheaper than trying to deal with waste
treatment or environmental remediation after the fact.
Principle ("reverse onus") has prompted a vigorous and healthy international
debate by politicians, government officials, activists, and industry
- "When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the
environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause-and-effect
relationships are not fully established scientificially." from
the January 1998 Wingspread Statement on the Precautionary Principle
How should individuals and communities deal with the
proper and safe disposal of unneeded pharmaceuticals? Simply
flushing them down the drain only adds to the level of contaminants
which pass through our sewage treatment plants and ultimately
back into aquatic systems.
Unfortunately, there are essentially
no federal or state guidelines for proper disposal of drugs by private
individuals. We will have to gather information from state agencies, health
officials, and area pharmacies in Washington to provide recommendations
to people wanting to properly dispose of drug products.
The "cradle to cradle" design philosophy presented by Dr. Christian
G. Daughton of the EPA, is an approach that.... "places the emphasis
on managing the life-cycle flow of materials always with the objective
of seizing new opportunities to lessen environmental impact while
at the same time improving conditions for people and industry - managing
all materials as perpetual resources rather than as wastes."
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