Target: Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Goal: Regulate the spread of pharmaceuticals and other toxins via waterways into the environment
Recent years have seen a rapid growth in the variety of drugs, from pain-relieving to life-saving. Whatever ailment we suffer, we may easily turn to these over-the-counter medicines for relief, perhaps never thinking of what happens after we dispose of them and they enter the environment at large. In reality, researchers have known for 15 years that when these pharmaceuticals are flushed down our drains, they often make it past waste water treatment systems. According to a recent article, environmental health scientists at the University of Minnesota have detected drugs ranging from antibiotics to anti-convulsive medicines. Given that the effect of these background levels of pharmaceuticals on environmental or public health is unknown, this is an alarming discovery.
Meanwhile, our current regulations lag behind the times. The Toxic Substance Law does not acknowledge the presence of these drugs in waterways, and since its passage nearly 40 years ago in 1976, has not been updated to reflect the growing number of pharmaceuticals that pervade our environment. What’s more, the FDA does not even regulate the spread of pharmaceuticals into the environment.
While not every chemical presents a major threat, the increasing appearance of unexpected drugs in the environment combined with the rate at which new compounds are being produced signal the need to change how we assess and prioritize chemical exposures. Please sign the petition below and push to improve our standards for chemical testing and tighten restrictions on chemicals deemed hazardous. Urge the government to take these vital steps to protecting environmental health and ensuring the safety of our communities.
Dear Commissioner Hamburg,
I am writing in order to bring your attention to the increasing amount of pharmaceutical compounds entering the environment through our waterways. For 15 years, researchers have known that drugs flushed down the drains can slip past waste water treatment systems. Yet, the FDA still does not regulate the spread of pharmaceuticals into the environment.
While not every chemical represents a threat to our health and safety, I am concerned that new compounds are being produced more rapidly than we can keep track of them. Indeed, the 1976 Toxic Substance Law fails even to acknowledge the presence of pharmaceutical drugs in waterways.
I urge you to take this moment to improve our standards for chemical testing and tighten restrictions on chemicals deemed hazardous. I understand that updating our regulations presents a significant political challenge. All the more, I encourage you to lead the way in protecting our health along with that of the environment. With the scope of this pollution still uncertain, these concrete steps can help us reduce the flow of contaminants into ecosystems and work toward a safer, healthier planet.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: imagigine via Pixabay