One problem is that people will often just flush prescription drugs when they are expired or do not need them anymore.
Secondly, while drugs are generally dosed to be properly metabolized, not all will get broken down by our bodies. Additionally, in the doses, they are generally giving us a ball park range for the average human, and there will be some people that do not metabolize drugs exactly in the time frame expected.
Drugs dosage is not determined by what people can metabolize, but what a doctor thinks will be an effective drug concentration. Because of this it is often safer to oversaturate the system with drugsc(within limits imposed by the FDA), than it is to underprescribe and run the risk of not completely wiping out a bacteria for example, which can lead to resistant strains.
Not all of the prescription medications that are prescribed are consumed, leading to some portion being flushed down the drain. This is particularly true for controlled substances, such as strong pain medications, since it is often deemed safter to flush excess drugs than to risk having them misused. Instead of flushing, it is recommended to make medications unusable or undesirable, for example by mixing them with kitty litter, and then disposing of them in your household trash. Or visit http://www.disposemymeds.com for takeback locations. Controlled substances should be turned over to law enforcement.
However, it is largely agreed that the majority of medications in our waterways comes from unmetabolized drugs that have been excreted by humans. Our wastewater treatment system is not equipped to remove medications from wastewater, and so these substances are discharged into our waterways.
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