Currently drinking and wastewater treatment facilities do not treat for pharmaceutical or personal care product pollutants. Why?

Water and Waste

Water is an abundant resource on the planet. Although 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, less than 1% is potable—fresh water that people can drink and water crops with. The rest is unusable with about 97% of it in the oceans, which are too salty for these purposes.

The average American uses about 100 gallons of water per day, depending on how you calculate water usage. The majority of that water usage takes place in the bathroom to flush toilets and to take showers and baths. In the United States you can just turn the faucet on when you need water, but others in many parts of the world are not so fortunate. Have you ever thought about where all of that water comes from or where it goes after it leaves your house? How do communities ensure that the water supply is safe? How do you ensure that the water you send down the drain does not harm the environment?

Review how wastewater is treated (the water that you send down the drain):

  • Source: Retrieved from

Additionally, review some information on drinking water:

  • Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). Safe water. Retrieved from

Recently, researchers have started to look at the impact that common pharmaceutical and personal care products have on the water supply. Read up on what this means to you and the environment:

  • Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). Pharmaceuticals and personal care products. Retrieved from

In your posts this unit answer the following questions:

  1. You have all heard that you should conserve water but this may seem odd depending on where you live. In an arid place like the southwestern United States it seems logical to conserve water, but in the Great Lakes region where water appears to be abundant, people are also encouraged to save water. Why are even those with an excess of annual rainfall being encouraged to conserve water?
  2. Currently drinking and wastewater treatment facilities do not treat for pharmaceutical or personal care product pollutants. Why?
  3. How should we, as a country, handle pharmaceutical or personal care product pollutants? Should they be handled through new treatments or through prevention? Explain your answer.
  4. Review your local community, town, city, or state government’s website for information and policies on water conservation and wastewater treatment. Post one interesting point that you learned in your research. Be sure to provide the resource for the information with your post.
  5. Later in the unit, compare your local government’s water policy information to one described by one of your classmates. Are there any similarities? Are there any differences?