Try This at Home
Use a solid-carbon-block water filter on your kitchen faucet to filter drinking and cooking water. This step is especially critical if your tap water is chlorinated or may be polluted by wastewater, such as from an upstream sewage treatment plant or up-gradient septic system. To learn what’s in your water, explore the Environmental Working Group’s National Tap Water Quality Database, or ask your water supplier for test results.
Never flush medications down a toilet or drain. Pharmaceuticals—especially antibiotics and hormone replacement medications, such as estrogen—are adversely affecting the environment, as water treatment facilities cannot filter out all the chemical compounds that medications may leave behind. Investigate whether your pharmacy has a medication take-back program; if not, ask it to start one. For disposal suggestions, visit the No Drugs Down the Drain website.
Many septic systems do not rid sewage of pollutants that may be harmful to human health before discharging the sewage to groundwater—and in some cases before it contaminates drinking water wells.
Silent Spring Institute scientists made this discovery after monitoring water for hormone-disrupting chemicals such as natural estrogen (from urine) and alkylphenols (from detergents), as well as certain pharmaceuticals, as the water passed from the septic system into the ground. The study looked at a typical septic system on Cape Cod, where septic systems serve more than 85 percent of residential and commercial properties.
While septic systems may be effective at preventing bacterial contamination of water supplies, these results show that septic systems do not remove hormone-disrupting chemicals from septic wastewater before they infiltrate into groundwater.