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Southern Nevada Water Authority

Pharmaceuticals

Pharmaceuticals

Never flush medications down the toilet.

Pharmaceuticals and personal care products, known in the water industry as PPCPs, are a group of compounds consisting of human and veterinary drugs (prescription or over-the-counter) and consumer products, such as fragrance, lotions, sunscreens and housecleaning products.

These compounds have been detected in trace amounts in surface water, drinking water and wastewater effluent sampling because water professionals have the technology today to detect more substances, at lower levels, than ever before.

Many PPCP compounds are being found at extremely low levels, typically single-digit parts per quadrillion. Drinking-water standards are typically set in the parts-per-billion range. The fact that a substance is detectable in drinking water does not mean the substance is harmful to humans. To date, research throughout the world has not demonstrated an impact on human health from trace amounts of PPCPs found in drinking water.

The water community is committed to protecting the public health. Water professionals are examining the occurrence of PPCPs in drinking-water supplies and the effectiveness of current treatment techniques of removal, and are paying close attention to health-effects research in this area, including research being conducted by the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA).

In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains an active program called the Contaminant Candidate List to identify contaminants in public drinking water that warrant detailed study. While the list does not currently include any PPCPs, the EPA may consider these compounds in the future. For information about which compounds were detected in Southern Nevada's water supply, see the Water Analysis Summary below.

Safer Medication Disposal

Follow these simple steps for proper disposal methods, suggested by SNWA and the University of Southern Nevada College of Pharmacy:

  1. Collect expired or unused medications.
  2. Remove all labels with personal information, leaving warning labels intact.
  3. Dump all pills in a sealable bag.
  4. Crush the pills with a heavy object.
  5. Add an absorbent product to the bag, such as coffee grounds, kitty litter or sawdust.
  6. Pour liquid medications into the mix and seal. Discreetly hide in the garbage.

Visit OperationMedicineCabinetLV.org or PainIntheDrain.com for more information on proper disposal of pharmaceuticals.

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