Medications making their way into drinking water a concern for scientists. | News

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Medications making their way into drinking water a concern for scientists.
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STANDISH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- With roughly a trillion gallons of water, it is hard to believe that one pill, or even an entire bottle of them, could have an impact on the water quality of Sebago Lake, but think again.

"We are concerned about all contaminants that could possibly enter Sebago Lake, and subsequently the water supply," explained Michael Koza, the lab manager at the Portland Water District.

Koza says Sebago Lake, the drinking water source for nearly 200,000 people, is clean and pristine, but that doesn't mean they haven't detected minuscule amounts of medications and other contaminants.

"Back in 2009, we did voluntarily test for a number of pharmaceuticals," said Koza. The results revealed trace amounts of triclosan, a chemical commonly found in soaps, hand sanitizers and toothpaste and ibuprofen, a widely used pain reliever and anti-inflammatory medication.

"The amount of pharmaceuticals we did detect were very trace amounts," he explained. The water district says a person would have to drink 32 million, 16 ounce glasses of water to achieve what one ibuprofen tablet can do, but that doesn't mean there isn't cause for concern.

"The truth is that we don't really understand what even trace amounts of these compounds do to the human body or reptiles, amphibians, other mammals in the environment," he stated. "We just don't know that yet."

That's why they urge people to dispose of unwanted medications, expired prescriptions and other vitamins and supplements they no longer need in a safe and responsible manner.

"The problem can seem daunting, but you can either do something or not do something, and one of the things we can do is to educate people on the proper disposal of their medications," said Koza.

That's one reason why NEWS CENTER has teamed up with the Cumberland and Penobscot County Sheriff's Departments to conduct a day long drug take back event on Friday April 25th. We will have drive-thru locations where people can quickly drop-off any unwanted medicine, vitamins or supplements without getting out of their cars, no questions asked.

From 5am until 7pm people in Portland can stop by the parking lot across from Hannaford on Back Cove or the Airport Mall parking lot on Union Street in Bangor.

If you cannot make it to one of those locations, you can also search this database of dozens of sites in Maine and New Hampshire that will be taking in unwanted drugs on Saturday.


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