Off to the bathroom? Please don’t! So you dispose of drugs, without harm to the environment

It comes to drugs, the German environmental sinners. The yogurt remaining in the container, the outer packaging into the waste paper and plastic cups for the recycling of waste: Many consumers are increasingly trying to make in terms of trash all right. Except in the case of medicinal products.

The Figures from the Institute for social-ecological research (ISOE) in Frankfurt show, at least: So 43.3 percent of consumers poured in 2006, liquid medicines such as cough syrup, remnants in the toilet or sink, seven years later, there were 46.5 percent. In the case of tablets and Co, a comparable development: Here, the share of 16 percent increased to 20 percent. Recent data, there is not. But the Numbers today would be better, doubts, Dr. Martina Winker, agricultural scientist at ISOE. Nevertheless, she is optimistic and says it will do something: “But slowly.”

Discarded drugs are a danger to the environment

Often it is simply a lack of education. Because, paradoxically, misconceptions: medicine bottles are behind the environmental sins often be emptied in the sink, then in the glass to dispose of. And: people value drugs to appreciate their healing effect, and you perceive, therefore, in principle, as something valuable – something that you don’t throw in the garbage. “You are worried that discarded drugs may end up in the wrong hands,” says Winker. “You want to avoid and land as expired medicines and residues of Medications in the sink or toilet.”

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That’s what needs to change, have also been recognised by the authorities. The Federal Institute for drugs and medical devices (BfArM) want in the future in every package insert of the note must, of medicines are never to be disposed of via the waste water. In Germany, more than 150 drugs are known to have been in rivers and lakes, and in groundwater found, some even in drinking water. But, Winker: “to capture All active ingredients in a systematic and to determine in each sample, is not possible.” Therefore it is necessary to assume that there are much more, a fortiori, if we add the degradation products of the individual substances. For Healthy, as all experts agree, is the drug mixture is safe. The concentration in rivers and lakes is between a few to about 100 nanograms, so a billionth of a gram per Liter.

Nevertheless, this is a danger for our environment. We know, for example, that the Estrogens from the pill male rainbow trout damage, you feminize. The progestin Levonorgestrel is impaired in the case of frogs, the development of the thyroid gland. Shells get all mixed up, in terms of the mating cycle, when the anti-Influenza drug Oseltamivir is found in the water. The painkiller Diclofenac attacks the kidney of fish. In India has been eradicated by this drug Articles almost. The birds had eaten the meat of cattle that had been treated with it.

Not pharmaceutical factories and hospitals are the biggest Problem, but private households

Of course, pharmaceutical substances about agriculture in the environment, such as antibiotics, which are used in mass animal husbandry to use. And then there are pharmaceutical factories, and hospitals with their contaminated waste water. But they are not, as many believe, the main cause of the drug mixture in the waters. “Actually, the private households contribute the most,” says Winker. “The Problem lies in the area.” And who pours never a drug in the toilet, causing traces of Medicines: no matter what medicine you take, a certain portion passes through the body unchanged, another ends up as a product of metabolism in the toilet bowl. “And these so-called metabolites – the epileptic agents carbamazepine, for example, has well over 20 – can still be biologically active.” Sometimes, they are even more problematic than the starting substance.

Paracetamol and ACE are more environmentally friendly than Diclofenac

There are materials that decay, such as acetylsalicylic acid (Asa, Aspirin) and Paracetamol. This depends on their structure or their chemical properties. The so-called polar drug substances are difficult to degrade, so Winker. They are hydrophilic (water-loving) and dissolve in the polar water. Also, Ibuprofen is less of a problem than Diclofenac for the pain and anti-inflammatories in favour of the Federal environment Agency (UBA), the re-introduction of the prescription for low doses. The substance has been designated by the state office for nature, environment and consumer protection North Rhine-Westphalia (LANUV) as “with respect to its ecotoxicological effects of environmentally relevant”. Just like the antibiotics Ciprofloxacin, Clarithromycin, Erythromycin, and sulfamethoxazole, the above-mentioned carbamazepine and 17 alpha-ethinyl estradiol, the Estrogen used in the pill.

Much remains unclear, because systematically the environmental impact of the individual active ingredients is not recognised in this country. “Only in new registrations, this data will be submitted to the authorities,” says Martina Winker. “Otherwise, you are in the company.” There is no German – or English-language table or database in which Doctors and pharmacists could check whether or not a substance for the environment is problematic or not. “You have no way to prescribe something more sustainable, or to recommend. And for the end-users of this information are, of course, have just as little.”

Unless you speak Swedish. Then you can under the the “Miljöinfo”, the effect of the view on the environment, many drug substances. The Website was created by a merger of the institutions of the Swedish health care system, including the roughly 2000 state – owned pharmacies. The service life of the active ingredients (“persistence”), your ability in living beings enrich (“bioaccumulation”) and their toxicity for the environment (“toxicity rating”).

What needs to happen in order for the drug Cocktail will be in the waters to the health problem

Sustainable management of medicinal products begins long before the Throw away. “The one thing that changes everything, isn’t there, unfortunately,” says Winker. “We need measures along the whole chain.” An important point may be, sewage treatment plants, equip with a so-called fourth purification stage. This ozone builds, for example, the drug molecules. “However, such systems are expensive, and you don’t destroy every drug,” says the expert. “Yet these degradation products can be formed which are very reactive.” It is, therefore, already in the development of drugs, their environmental substances to take account of properties. And to take advantage of the Advisory competence of pharmacists and Physicians. Especially in the case of the so-called Compliance, i.e. the question of how reliable a Patient takes his agent. Because a drug that is not taken, it can’t work, and leads to gradients under certain circumstances, delayed disease and even more tablets need. And A healthy Lifestyle has no side effects, not even on the environment, Physicians can take as a pharmacist influence. “All of this must also be reflected in the examination regulations of the pharmacy-students, and in the scripts for the training of these professional groups”, calls for Winker. “Since the issue is not to do so.”

And the end-user

You should dispose of medicines properly. That is, for almost all medications and almost always in the garbage in order (for exceptions see box). Ideally, knotted tightly in a bag so that neither the end of the game, children can still get addicted to it. The waste is burned, and the active ingredients are destroyed or inactivated. And the cough syrup bottle is only to the glass, if it is really empty. Then of course in the brown container. Only if the municipality does not burn the garbage, have to medicines be disposed of separately. As it is regulated in your municipality, can be on the page by the German Federal Ministry for education and research read. From there, you can continue to click to the opening Hours of the respective collection. Also pharmacies take Altarzneien – if even for a few years only on a voluntary basis.

Also important, however, so the direction indicator that follows around: The most environmentally friendly product is one that you do not get at all from the pharmacy. For a sustainable dealing with drugs begins long before the Throw away.

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