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Pee Pollution

Pee Pollution

Credit: rfc1394
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Toilet_370x580.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

People in developed nations take a lot of pharmaceuticals. Tiny amounts of these prescription drugs pass through our bodies, are flushed down the toilet and may eventually end up in the environment.

Why It Matters

Credit: Klearchos Kapoutsis
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8383084@N06/3216838022
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Water treatment plants aim to remove waste, so that water can be used for different purposes [Figure2]

  • The widespread use of pharmaceuticals is relatively new.
  • Wastewater treatment plants do not treat for most pharmaceuticals and so far clean water laws do not require them to.
  • Some pharmaceuticals bioaccumulate in fish so concentrations would be very high in top predators.
  • Estrogens in the water can lead to feminization of fish and frogs.

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With the link below, learn more about pee pollution. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What is the effect of antidepressants in wastewater on male fathead minnows? What is the possible explanation for this?
  2. Why might zebra fish males lose interest in courtship behaviors when exposed to ibuprofen in wastewater?
  3. How might industrial livestock farms affect nearby drinking water?
  4. What are some differences between testing these chemicals on animals in a lab and the effects they may have on animals in the wild?
  5. What might regulation of these chemicals do?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: rfc1394; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Toilet_370x580.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Klearchos Kapoutsis; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8383084@N06/3216838022; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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