Drugs and Personal Care Products Polluting Water (cont.)
In addition, a primary goal of the U.S. EPA's Office of Research and Development is to identify and foster investigation of potential environmental issues/concerns before they become critical ecological or human health problems. Pollution prevention (e.g., source elimination or minimization) is preferable to remediation or restoration to minimize both public cost and human/ecological exposure.
Current Work: Comprehensive list of EPA research about PPCPs
In what quantities are PPCPs used or introduced to the environment?
As a whole, PPCPs are produced and used in large quantities. Personal care products tend to be made in extremely large quantities - thousands of tons per year. But quantities of production or consumption do not correspond with the quantities of PPCPs introduced to the environment. PPCPs manufactured in large quantities may not be found in the environment if they are easily broken down and processed by the human body or degrade quickly. PPCPs made in small quantities could be over represented in the environment, if they are not easily broken down and processed by the human body and make their way into domestic sewers.
What are some major issues with respect to effects?
The effects of PPCPs are different from conventional pollutants. Drugs are purposefully designed to interact with cellular receptors at low concentrations and to elicit specific biological effects. Unintended adverse effects can also occur from interaction with non-target receptors.
Environmental toxicology focuses on acute effects of exposure rather than chronic effects.
How can I contact scientists working on this topic?
Contact information for research scientists with active research about PPCPs in the environment and government scientists with interest in regulatory aspects, is available. Listing of research scientists and their contact information.
Last Editorial Review: 3/11/2008