Endocrine Disrupters and the Pill
- How EDs Work
- Our Stolen Future
- Drugs in the Environment
Examples of EDs
- Government Testing
- The Pill as an ED
- History of the Pill
- Case Study: Coastal Waters
- Case Study: Fish
- Case Study: Men in Italy
- What you can do!
- Further Information
Comments & questions to:
Drugs in the Environment
To be affected by endocrine disrupters(EDs) you do not have to have ingested them. As Colborn
found, EDs were rampant in the environment. Some are there because of
industrial chemical production, sometimes they are leftovers that
simply runoff with other pollution into waterways. Others are
pesticides, such as DDT, which can enter into groundwater and
watersheds affecting the quality of the water. Water is one of the most
vulnerable of our resources, and one of the places EDs tend to thrive.
Think of Colborn's principals of biomagnification, the early steps are usually in plankton and algae which are affected by the EDs presence in the water.
One of the newly discovered ways that EDs enter the
environment is from people. The large usage of prescription and
non-prescription medicines means that as these naturally pass through
humans' bodies, medicines show up in the wastewater and are not
filtered out before they reach waterways. It is important to note that
not every medication is an ED, but some that are taken by large groups
of people such as the birth control pill and hormone replacement
therapy. Normal means of waste extraction simply does not account for
this problem and small amounts of heart medication and birth control
pills (just to name a few) are being found in drinking water.
Adding to this pollution is the problem that not only are Americans
obsessed with medicating, but the accepted method for disposal of
medication is to flush it down the toilet. Environmentalists recommend
that you return unused medicines to pharmacies, but most hospitals,
doctor's offices, and pharmacies dispose of their excess medicine by
sending it down the drain. There are high amounts of drugs entering the
water supply meaning that medicines are entering our bodies that we do
not intend to be there. Some of these could be EDs and some are known
EDs, yet the current wastewater treatment plants are not equipped to
deal with this problem. A US geological survey found trace amounts
(remember even small levels can be harmful) of pharmaceuticals in 139
US lakes and rivers in 2002.
Information on this page from: Sharon Batt's article "Pouring Drugs Down the Drain" in the Spring 2005 issue of Herizons
Melissa Knopper's article "Drugging Our Water: We Flush it, then We Drink It" in the Jan/Feb issue of Green Living: E magazine
M. Roth's article "Pharmaceuticals in the Environment"
Last updated: 5/2/2006