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Polluting With Pharmaceuticals

April 14, 2008 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 86, ISSUE 15

Congratulations to C&EN for an excellent and comprehensive article on pharmaceuticals and how they enter our environment after their intended use (C&EN, Feb. 25, page 13). Unfortunately, the story gave little more than a cursory nod to methods of medicine recovery and disposal, such as minimizing the environmental and human impacts at the end of a medicine's intended use.

The ACS Detroit Section has been raising awareness about proper medication disposal for two years. The local section created a pamphlet that details where old and used medications can be turned in or disposed of properly in the local area. The pamphlet has been distributed at public outreach events at which the Detroit Section has had a presence in and around the metro Detroit area and has been posted on the Detroit Section website ( This informative tool was created in response to a survey sent out to section members asking what they wanted from their section and its leadership. The response was a strong desire for a more environmentally responsible, proactive position on matters of environmental concern.

Furthermore, a sample examination of the local section websites for New York City, Miami, Chicago, and Los Angeles, as well as for Bayer and Pfizer, turns up additional material for this story. That information could have jump-started any number of readers, as well as ACS local sections, to think about this matter more deeply or perhaps to initiate their own local awareness program.

At the risk of sounding like an alarmist, merely talking about pharmaceutical pollution is not enough. Effective, simple steps can be implemented now to help minimize or even alleviate this problem. C&EN really does have a duty to bring such possible solutions to its readers when it discusses this type of condition or problem. The article was good but could have been much better and could have provided so much more.

Mark A. Benvenuto



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