Antidepressants Kill Bacteria in Great Lakes

Analysis by Marianne English

Great Lakes

Prescription drugs flushed down the toilet can travel beyond local water treatment plants to local bodies of water. But amid concerns about harming the environment, one analysis presented at the general meeting of the American Society for Microbiology shows a compound found in antidepressant medications may limit E. coli populations and other potentially harmful bacteria from growing in Great Lakes ecosystems.

Fluoxetine, the active ingredient in antidepressants such as Prozac, Sarafem and other medications used to treat mental health disorders, was found in small amounts in Lake Erie. The research team told National Geographic News that the amount of the drug found, roughly one nanogram per liter of water, is too small to affect humans, but enough to kill off other bacteria also introduced by humans, including excess E. coli bacteria.

But the source of the drug is yet to be found.

“There’s no particular fallout. We don’t have a direct sewage outfall located anywhere near the beaches,” said Steve Mauro in the article.

NEWS: Diluted Pollution Still Pollutes: Opinion

Mauro previously sampled Lake Erie but conducted more research to assess the amounts of specific contaminants more closely this past year. Because antidepressants also have the potential to kill off good bacteria, it’s unclear what the cumulative effects of pharmaceutical pollution will be for human health and that of surrounding ecosystems.

The research highlights a growing problem: Intentionally or not, we’re flushing the medications we depend on down the drain.

For instance, if you take a pill, there’s still a chance you’ll excrete some of the active ingredients in your urine. In addition, many people still flush their expired or unused prescription drugs down the toilet, with active ingredients often finding their way past the water treatment process and into local streams, lakes and oceans.

NEWS: Side Effects of Drugs in Water Still Murky

Disposing prescription drugs with little impact on the environment is doable, according to the FDA. Some drug labels state it’s OK to flush the doses down the toilet, while others instruct consumers to return the product to drug programs or even place it in containers with cat litter or coffee grounds to be disposed of in land fills. Generally speaking, most labels help direct consumers on how to dispose of drugs safely.

There are also recycling programs for unused medications as well.

But limiting pharmaceutical pollution won’t truly be an option until waste water facilities are equipped to filter out drug waste, even if it’s diluted in urine.

Photo by Breadchastick/Wikimedia Commons

via Antidepressants Kill Bacteria in Great Lakes : Discovery News.

Extreme window sticker: Tesla Roadster 2.5 estimated at 119 MPGe

Tesla MPGe

At an event in Palo Alto this afternoon, the Environmental Protection Agency EPA announced its new window stickers to be implement on 2013 models, and Tesla Motor shared a mock-up what its Tesla Roadster 2.5 fuel economy label will look like once officially released.The sticker for the Roadster 2.5 shows 119 miles per gallon equivalent: 112 MPGe on the highway and 124 MPGe in the city. In addition, it shows the Tesla Roadster will go 245 miles on an eight-hour charge. The EPA’s 245-mile figure is what Tesla uses for its own range claims. We haven’t tested the $120,000 sports car, so can’t vouch for either the range or energy usage figures.In the emissions section of the fuel economy label, the Roadster scores a perfect “10” in both greenhouse gas and smog ratings. However, those ratings don’t count emissions from the powerplants that produce electricity for the car. How clean the source energy is really depends on where you live.

via Extreme window sticker: Tesla Roadster 2.5 estimated at 119 MPGe.