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      Cradle-to-cradle stewardship of drugs for minimizing their environmental disposition while promoting human health. I. Rationale for and avenues toward a green pharmacy.

      Environmental Health Perspectives

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          Since the 1980s, the occurrence of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) as trace environmental pollutants, originating primarily from consumer use and actions rather than manufacturer effluents, continues to become more firmly established. Although PPCPs typically have been identified in surface and ground waters, some are also undoubtedly associated with solid phases such as suspended particulates, sediments, and sewage sludges, despite their relatively high affinity for water. Often amenable to degradation, their continual introduction to waste-receiving waters results from their widespread, continuous, combined use by individuals and domestic animals, giving PPCPs a "pseudo-persistence" in the environment. Little is known about the environmental or human health hazards that might be posed by chronic, subtherapeutic levels of these bioactive substances or their transformation products. The continually growing, worldwide importance of freshwater resources, however, underscores the need for ensuring that any aggregate or cumulative impacts on (or from) water supplies are minimized. Despite the paucity of effects data from long-term, simultaneous exposure at low doses to multiple xenobiotics (particularly non-target-organism exposure to PPCPs), a wide range of proactive actions could be implemented to reduce or minimize the introduction of PPCPs to the environment. Most of these actions fall under what could be envisioned as a holistic stewardship program--overseen by the health care industry and consumers alike. Significantly, such a stewardship program would benefit not just the environment; additional, collateral benefits could automatically accrue, including reducing consumers' medication expenses and improving patient health and consumer safety. In this article, the first of a two-part mini-monograph describing the "green pharmacy," I focus initially on the background behind the imperative for an ecologically oriented stewardship program for PPCPs. I then present a broad spectrum of possible source control/reduction actions, controlled largely by the health care industry, that could minimize the disposition of PPCPs to the environment. This two-part mini-monograph attempts to capture cohesively for the first time the wide spectrum of actions available for minimizing the release of PPCPs to the environment. A major objective is to generate an active dialog or debate across the many disciplines that must become actively involved to design and implement a successful approach to life-cycle stewardship of PPCPs.

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          Author and article information

          Environ Health Perspect
          Environmental Health Perspectives
          May 2003
          : 111
          : 5
          : 757-774
          Environmental Chemistry Branch, Environmental Sciences Division/National Exposure Research Laboratory, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Las Vegas, Nevada 89119, USA. daughton.christian@epa.gov
          Research Article

          Public health
          Public health


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