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Shower Pollution

April 20, 2010

Bathing and showering could be washing drugs into our waterways.


Drugs going down the drain…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Traces of pharmaceuticals like birth control pills and antidepressants end up in our waterways after being flushed down the toilet. But not all medications are taken orally. Some are applied to the skin as ointments. That’s why scientists now think bathing and showering might also be washing drugs down the drain. Ilene Ruhoy is director of the Institute for Environmental Medicine at Touro University in Nevada.

ILENE RUHOY (Touro University):
How do we assess how much of that drug was washed off in a given shower? Is it all washed off in one shower? There’s more questions than answers, certainly, but I think we’re now starting to try to answer the questions in the best modeling manner in which we can.

Ruhoy says increasing awareness of showering as a potential source of water pollution could help doctors and patients learn how to reduce it. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.