Posted By Bill Couzens Founder, Less Cancer
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BY Bill Couzens Founder Less Cancer
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Scientist have also pointed to endocrine disruptors (hormone acting exposures) from pharmaceuticals to agricultural pesticides linked to changing and or altering the sex of fish.
Disruption of the endocrine system can occur in various ways. Some chemicals mimic a natural hormone, fooling the body into over-responding to the stimulus (e.g., a growth hormone that results in increased muscle mass), or responding at inappropriate times (e.g., producing insulin when it is not needed). Other endocrine disrupting chemicals block the effects of a hormone from certain receptors (e.g. growth hormones required for normal development). Still others directly stimulate or inhibit the endocrine system and cause overproduction or underproduction of hormones (e.g. an over or under active thyroid). Certain drugs are used to intentionally cause some of these effects, such as birth control pills. In many situations involving environmental chemicals, however, an endocrine effect is not desirable.
These exposures have left a thumbprint in our water. One example isthat scientist tell us that this is associated with the intersex fish in the Potomac River that have found endocrine-disrupting contaminants including pesticides flame retardants and personal-care products.
Bill Couzens, Founder Lesscancer.org
Taking back the environment, one drug at a time
By Edward Hill
Source: Loudoun Times-Mirror
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 19 2008
When Cheri Gavin, CEO and manager of Leesburg Pharmacy on Catoctin Circle, heard expired pharmaceuticals were harming the environment, she decided to do something about it.
Gavin began the drug “take-back” program this past summer. The program allows anyone, customer or not, to bring expired medications to the Leesburg Pharmacy rather than throw them away or flush them down the toilet.
Flushing medications could have adverse affects on the environment, Gavin says. Once flushed, the drugs pass into the sewage system, and from there into the environment. Studies have yet to conclusively show what impact this will have on humans, but Gavin isn’t taking any chances.
“I’m not an expert on that area, but I don’t want my two boys drinking estrogen,” she said.
Mitch Rothholz, spokesman for the American Pharmacist’s Association (APhA), says that for now, the presence of drugs in water supplies is low.
“The amount that is in the water has been measured, but it hasn’t been shown to be clinically significant,” he said.
He said most of the drugs in the nation’s water supply get there after passing through patients’ bodies, and only a small percentage comes from discarded drugs.
Nevertheless, the APhA has partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to educate the public about alternatives to flushing drugs.
Taking the drugs to a pharmacy is one way to ensure that the drugs don’t get into the environment. There is a problem here too, however.
“If pharmacies take it back, what do they do with it?” Rothholz said.
For Gavin, the solution came when she partnered with Guaranteed Returns, a New York-based “reverse distribution” company that works with pharmacies that have take-back programs. According to its Web site, Guaranteed Returns sends the expired medications to the manufacturer. It receives credit from the manufacturer, so there is little or no cost to the pharmacy.
Any drugs that cannot be returned are incinerated. The resulting energy is used to generate electricity.
Mike Fairbanks, a landfill manager for the Loudoun County Office of Waste Management, said the issue of pharmaceutical pollution is so new that the county hasn’t had the time or money yet to develop a program like the one at Leesburg Pharmacy. No regulations exist that deal with this issue either, he said.
However, as the issue becomes better-known, he anticipates more take-back programs appearing.
“Places like Leesburg Pharmacy are kind of out there in front of everybody,” he said.
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