Improper disposal of pharmaceuticals can lead to eventual contamination of the Great Lakes, which threatens humans as well as wildlife, according to a recent report by the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
While it is difficult to say what impacts this may have on humans, scientists have found that such contamination can lead to problems such as birth defects in fish. It's also difficult to track the source of the contamination, which can come from humans washing off topical medications, from waste matter, or from flushing medications down the toilet or throwing them in the garbage.
With so many factors involved, it may be better to treat the contamination itself rather than the cause. Some scientists believe the best treatment is to add ozone to wastewater, a process which oxidizes the chemicals. Some water treatment plants in the Great Lakes area are already using this process.
What can you do to help prevent the contamination of the Great Lakes? While some communities have access to a secure medication collection box, individuals can also mix medications with kitty litter or coffee grounds and seal them in a plastic container.
More information available at Great Lakes Echo.