Creating a Drug Crisis

More and more, communities throughout the United States are implementing drug collection programs to dispose of their unused prescriptions drugs. There are good reasons for doing so, like keeping prescription drugs out of the hands of children. But these programs have also been trumpeted as a boon for the environment, and as always when the environmentalist movement is involved, there is a more ominous agenda in play.

A rather obscure theory, dear to the hearts of many environmental groups, holds that over- the-counter drugs, prescription drugs and pesticides are wreaking havoc on human health and the environment because they act as “endocrine disruptors.” Understanding the theory will force us to delve into the science a bit.

Humans and animals depend of endocrine systems for a variety of biological functions. These systems utilize communications between hormones to regulate, among other things, reproductive and digestive processes. But what if something interferes with that communication system? To put a point on it, what if man-made chemicals sabotage endocrine systems? The results could be disastrous.

Disrupting endocrine systems could – emphasis on “could” – reduce reproductive rates, result in more birth deformities and cause other biological problems. The degree to which a particular chemical could cause such damage depends on a couple of things: the nature of the chemical and the amount of the chemical ingested. The adage “the dose makes the poison” applies. The problem here, which is what makes potential regulation of endocrine disruptors so ominous, is that it is claimed that some chemicals have the ability to disrupt endocrine systems at extremely low doses, concentrations so minute that it is necessary to push the envelope of science to even find these chemicals, much less remove them. It has been claimed that, for some chemicals, concentrations as low as parts per trillion, even parts per quadrillion, can damage endocrine systems.

Such claims are nothing more than nonsense of the sort that environmental groups routinely spout in order to create non-existent crises that their supporters are urged to address. Not coincidentally, these manufactured crises are used by environmental groups to drum up contributions in order to battle evil corporations bent on destroying the planet. In 1999 scientists on the National Research Council found that there is no good evidence to suggest that man-made chemicals are damaging endocrine systems in either humans or wildlife. Nonetheless, the Environmental Protection Agency decided to press on with further research into the issue, a process that continues to this day.

EPA’s Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP) was created in 1996 with the goal of isolating and eventually regulating those chemicals that the Agency determines pose a threat to endocrine systems. In 2007, EPA released a list of the first seventy three “Tier I” chemicals that it believes pose the most immediate threat. The Agency is now studying this list in greater depth. What’s on the list? Mostly pesticides, including some widely used chemicals like Malathion that environmental groups have had in their crosshairs for years, but some very important, widely used industrial chemicals, as well. Acetone, methyl ethyl ketone and toluene, used in a wide variety of industrial applications, make the cut, as do certain phthalates, which are used in the production of some plastics.

As I have noted before, environmental groups will get you any way they can. If they can’t ban coal combustion outright, then they’ll try to pile costs onto coal-fired power by imposing expensive rules that restrict the reuse of coal ash. If they can’t get rid of phthalates one way, then creating new, incredibly low standards for phthalate residue in the environment is a neat way to solve the supposed problem.

We’ve seen this environmental two-step before. Step one: create a crisis whose causes are too complex for the layman to understand and claim that, if not addressed rapidly, it will cause horrific damage. Step two: solve the “crisis” by piling expensive new restrictions on industrial activity in America. That’s the endgame whenever these seemingly innocuous research programs swing into gear. The Natural Resources Defense Council, for example, jumped on the endocrine disruptor bandwagon early, warning supporters that they, their children and wildlife of all sorts were at risk.

This brings us back to increasingly popular drug collection programs. Is there legitimate concern about teen-agers pilfering the Vicodin left over after dad has his knee surgery? Maybe. But there’s more here than meets the eye. In the world of endocrine disruptor theory, many drugs are said to be especially dangerous threats. A lot of people flush unused and expired drugs down their toilets, which eventually end up in water supplies, since treatment plants are not equipped to remove the tiny amount of these drugs in waste water streams. Thus, for environmentalists, drug collection programs are an important way to protect mother earth. However, there is a flaw in this grand design: it won’t work. There is no way that the government will convince enough people to stop flushing drugs down their toilet such that the concentrations of these drugs is, for all purposes, undetectable in water supplies.

So, following the path of the inevitable environmental regulatory logic to follow, when the EPA determines that the “problem” can’t be solved by voluntary means, the agency will require waste water plants to upgrade their treatment systems in order to remove a tiny bit of nothing from incoming waste streams. This in turn will cost money, probably a great deal of money, and that cost will be reflected in your water bill because that’s how you pay for operation of the treatment plant. Water being more expensive, people will cut down on their water use, which, from the environmentalist point of view, will be a most happy result indeed.

No doubt that is the ultimate aim of some of the environmental groups that are so concerned about the supposed nasty effects of endocrine disruptors. There is surely sincere, if unsubstantiated, concern mixed in there as well among certain groups, but subtle indeed are the ways of the green revolution. If the “endocrine disruptor crisis” can eventually result in sabotaging pesticide use, making key industrial chemicals more expensive and increasing the cost of using water, then it’s a green crusade made in heaven. The inevitable regulations to follow are still a long way off, but there’s no doubt that they’re coming. It’s just a matter of time.

Rich Trzupek is a chemist and Principal Consultant at Mostardi Platt Environmental, an environmental consulting firm based in Oak Brook, Illinois. He specializes in air quality issues and is the author of McGraw-Hill’s Air Quality Permitting and Compliance Manual. Rich is a confirmed skeptic with regard to the theory that human activity has caused global warming. He is also a regular contributor at threedonia.com.

  • eyes wide open

    Mostardi Platt Environmental specializes in COMPLIANCE and COST REDUCTION for Industry , and is not really an environmental firm to begin with ,, ,,,but rather cost control consultants for companies to meet compliance requirements of State or National Regulartory Agencies .
    YOU HAVE A BUILT IN BIAS . And you find a venue here , because in the repertoire of the particular political spectrum's propounded views on FPM , it is an accepted perception that " The Left " is behind all environmental regulation and all environmental studies and science . your are a compliance consultant specializing in "cost " for industry to comply with regulation, . You therefore bring a predisposed bias to ANY environmental issue , and that is because you are on the wrong end of the buisiness to be pontificating ,regarding the effects of , or the efficay of ,measures taken regarding the introduction of constantly changing drugs and chemical compounds introduced into the water supply . You are a chemist sir , not a scientist , and not by any means qualified to be making statements which are well beyond your expertise .

    • stosh

      "You are a chemist sir , not a scientist…"

      A chemist is a scientist – chemistry is one of the fundamental sciences, along with physics, biology, geology, and a number of others. If you don't know something that fundamental, one wonders why anything you say on an issue of scientific merit should be taken seriously.

      By the way, you don't have to take my word for it: check any local university, and you'll see that the chemistry department will be listed as one of the science departments.

      Yeeshh

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/eerieSteve eerieSteve

    I love the liberal mindset: Osama bin Laden will not kill you but parts per trillions will. I write this off as typical EDO schizophrenia run amuck.

    I also love how fat people are so concern about what is in their drinking water, yet they continually over eat. Want to adjust your endocrine system, well ultradian rhythms trump all:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultradian

    • SCUMBUCKET

      Osama bin Laden won't kill you? Where exactly is that written? And are you referring to the mujahadeen in general that were trained by the CIA (oops!), and the same bin Laden who was completely surrounded in Bora Bora and allowed to walk away? And how does all of this relate to Dick Cheney, when he was TWICE warned by a subordinate that a plane was on a DIRECT PATH to NYC, who told him to stand down (see transcripts of 9/11 commission). I suppose Cheney didn't realize that planes could be used as weapons and kill people. Unbelievably, that position was even played up in the media following 9/11, as officials whined "Who knew planes could be used as weapons?" Uh, DUH……………..

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/eerieSteve eerieSteve

        A cynic! Oh boy, this will be fun.

        "Osama bin Laden won't kill you? Where exactly is that written?"
        http://warincontext.org/2010/03/02/the-war-on-ter

        " And are you referring to the mujahadeen in general that were trained by the CIA (oops!), and the same bin Laden who was completely surrounded in Bora Bora and allowed to walk away?"

        Nice red herring, *eh-hem*. Mujahadeen and al-Qaeda are different groups and different people. As for Bora Bora, that was due to, in my opinion, for the request to be multi-national.

        Please do not play the military card if you are a liberal. It does not work. Look at when we killed al-Zarqawi. You had Paul Begala on Don Imus bashing Iraqi troops. Even if we did get him, you would probably drum up some excuse, like "Oh, it wasn't Americans who did it" or "This will never work."

        Face it. All you want to see is dead bodies everywhere. Your insults are a mask for your inner blood thirst.

        "And how does all of this relate to Dick Cheney, when he was TWICE warned by a subordinate that a plane was on a DIRECT PATH to NYC, who told him to stand down (see transcripts of 9/11 commission). I suppose Cheney didn't realize that planes could be used as weapons and kill people. Unbelievably, that position was even played up in the media following 9/11, as officials whined "Who knew planes could be used as weapons?" Uh, DUH…………….."

        hmmmmmm. 2010 and your panties are all knotted up about Dick Cheney. Tell me, do you really think Obama wouldn't throw Dick Cheney in a prison if there was one shred of evidence proving what you said was true? He owns the Federal government now. The Democratic Congress hates Cheney.

        I guess I am trying to bring logic to an illogical poster. Why I am even writing this?

  • eyes wide open

    My oh my , Mr.Trzupek , what is it with you ? It has long since been known that flushing your prescription drugs down the toilet is really not a good idea . .Especially in a country of 370 million or so , I mean its just COMMON SENSE . But to you , just another dark national conspiracy by the "environmentalists " [ a.k.a. Lefties ] to "get us ".
    So tell me , what are you doing as a "consultant " in ANY Environment consulting firm ?
    It seems your politics overides any science you may "stumble on " in the way of your consulting job . And you talk about "cost " in the way of water treatment plants in the way of dealing with what you allege as chemicals that " COULD " harm the humans who drink that water . Has the notion ever struck you , that limiting the crap we throw in the water to be treated , voluintarily or by regulation , may just limit the measures taken by treatment plants to deal with it .?

    • coyote3

      Well, you can say what you want, but I don't think you are in a position to be questioning, "who" is hired, consultant or otherwise by anyone. That would be up to the environment consulting firm hiring him. They would have to deal with the bias.

      Speaking of "bias". Why is he on the "wrong end" of the business?" Even if what you say is true, you can find an "agenda" or "bias" from people who advocate these extra measures. Environmentalists have a "bias". They begin with a predisposition that is every bit as "biased" as this author. I am not saying that this guy doesn't have a bias, and that it should not be taken into account, but I would have to do the same thing for both sides of the argument. You gave yourself away by stating the limiting the "crap" thown in the water may limit measures taken by treatment plants to deal with it. That conclusion assumes that the "crap" rises to the level that it has to be treated in the first place.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/bubba4 bubba4

      This is just another article like the "recycling is a fraud" article. It's just to make the case that some crazy "liberals" are trying to do something to us…trick us for no reason and try to get some of our money. Sure, the proper disposal of perscription medicine is something a modern society should consider (especially one that takes so many perscription drugs), it's not that it's shouldn't be handled…somehow…BUT…it's the liberal environmental wackos that are screaming day and night all over the liberal media that this is a problem and must be addressed.

      So like the recycling article, it's a complete fabrication…and like the "land fills are running out", this message is not being pushed by anyone…they aren't running ads, they aren't trying to scare people about this. I wouldn't have given it a thought if FPM didn't write this stupid article….so it's just another made up offense of the environmentalist…intended to piss off people about being badgered by environmentalists (even if they aren't).

  • USMCSniper

    Stupid eyes wide open (who apparently can even read) and his leftist buddies who want government controls on everything should note that " in 1999 scientists on the National Research Council found that there is no good evidence to EVEN SUGGEST LET ALONE CONFIRM that man-made chemicals are damaging endocrine systems in either humans or wildlife."

  • eyes wide open

    Hey fellas , such meandering off the subject !!, "liberal " ..and .how the hell did Dick Chenny and Bin Laden get into this ? You guys are like wind-up parrots .__ Hey Coyote et al , if you guys can't recognize a POLITICAL HACK and a SHILL FOR INDUSTRY …that aint my problem . Trzupek , is no scientist .,..he admits as much in his statements , and if you Google his Company , you can see exactly where he's coming from …lol…just like the "doctors " that the cigarette industry used to counter healthg claims against their product ..__And if you think Tzrupek has no agenda aside from what he claims ….then you musta just fell out of a christmas tree Coyote3.____You talk about MY MINDSET ??? Just look at yours !LOLOL>…and look at the mind explosion eerie steve just had …..oh this is too much to take with a straight face …..can't tell who's more confused Coyote3 …YOU or EERIE STEVE ?….lol….my question is …lol….what's in YOUR drinking water .????

    • coyote3

      I am hardly confused hijo. I never denied he had biases and/or an agenda. All I said is that you can find the same kind of agenda and biases on the other side of the arguement. Just because, and if, he works for the industry doesn't necessarily mean he is bad or good. Just like environmental scientists (it is not a science either, but that is a different issue), are neither bad nor good just because that are environmentalists. Why would I trust them, any more than the industry?

    • coyote3

      I am hardly confused hijo. I never denied he had biases and/or an agenda. All I said is that you can find the same kind of agenda and biases on the other side of the arguement. Just because, and if, he works for the industry doesn't necessarily mean he is bad or good. Just like environmental scientists (it is not a science either, but that is a different issue), are neither bad nor good just because that are environmentalists.

  • eyes wide open

    Mr .Trzupek should throw away his suitcases , for he has found a home , and an eager following . Ready and willing to suck up whatever he tosses on the table. For many ,the issue is not the environment at all , but pounding the left , by attaching environmentalists and the science to be an issue belonging soley to the left . As far as "spin " goes , Neutron Stars have got nothing on you .
    Mr.Tzrupek does not sdpeak science , but only poltical skulldugery for your benefit and expected approval On this , he is dead on target .

  • anne

    BORA BORA is in the South Pacific. Do you mean Tora Bora?

    • badaboo

      LOL….that's "eerie stevie " who lives in a place where everyone throws their scrips in the drinking water ….and it shows .

  • hal barton

    ObamaCare for the ObamaNation is bad in many ways. Yeah, what you say up there is great! It is a crummy solution! HOWEVER, what about all the thousands and thousands of people who have got to die while we wait for a an idealistic privatized medical care system to be crafted by the "invisible hand"? No one has even come up with a faint plan of how to make this possible. So, do we let them die and suffer until evolution gets rid of all those with inferior genes, or else produces a free-marketeer with a huge I.Q. that will come up with a plan to save all these lives? Seems to me, in this emergency, anything that can be agreed upon that will save all these human lives should be done immediately – idealistic far-fetched dreams of an Atlas Shrugged solution be damned! Where is your heart? I guess it is where the survival of the fittest are hiding. Perhaps on some Island they bought while they wait out the deaths and dying of those too stupid to get rich.

    • coyote3

      Guerdo, I will try to explain this, but it is going to take a little concentration on your part. It is going to take a little thought, and not just asking, "Where is your heart?" Have I lost you yet? The government, and in particular the federal government's, only power to act is those powers delegated by the constitution. That is where congress gets its power, and any agency of the government only has those powers which derivative of the powers of congress. That is just a fact, not an opinion. Without that delegated power, it is acting illegally. The suffering, the good, the bad, the indifferent are all irrelevant, without the power to act. Otherwise this country is no better than any other banana republic dictatorship, anywhere in the world. Right now, as it stands, it has no power to be involved in any of this stuff. They may already do it, but that is like saying they've robbed banks before, so what's one more bank robbery. Now, if you want to give the government a power it does not have, you can introduce a constitutional amendment, with the required votes, and ratification by enough states.

  • eyes wide open

    USMCSniper , you're just another wind up parrot . " Leftie freinds " …you dont kn ow my freinds , you have no idea of who my freinds are , left or right , And for a Marine , you babble the same drivel as Coyote3 and his ilk .WHO says environmental issues are the sole domain of the left ? YOU ? And your fellow little wind-up parrots ? A chemist is NOIT a scientist , my Pharmacist , is a chemist , and NOT a scientist .Mr ,Trzupek is not a scientist , he is a consultant , so he says , to industry for compliance to {I would assume ] environmental regulation. Try an put your smart hat on , he's got an agenda to be "less tha objective " , and if you cant see that in his statements , perhaps YOU need to brush up on your own reading comprehension skills . If you can't sere the common sense in NOT flushing your prescription drugs ? Well then you also can't even buy any common sense . That's on you pal .

    • USMCSniper

      Gid you are too stupid to even suspect you are stupid. Again " in 1999 scientists on the National Research Council found that there is no good evidence to EVEN SUGGEST LET ALONE CONFIRM that man-made chemicals are damaging endocrine systems in either humans or wildlife." Got it now?

      • badaboo

        Yea , I got it , you're a wind up parrot ….that's all I need to know regarding you .

  • hal barton

    coyote3 – boy, talking to you takes bravery! In order to talk to you I have got to incriminate my self: But let me show you the size of my heart, my Catholic heart – I would rob a bank to save a human lives, so, maybe you could vote for mercy for the poor even if it were a little funny legally speaking, because short of robbing a Big Bank, there is no other way to save those thousands of lives quickly enough. So, exactly how many are you willing to let die cuz, man, you know it is happening even as we speak – don't bother you much?

    • coyote3

      It is not relevant to this issue in this article, but the answer is "no"

    • coyote3

      Thank you, gracias. I didn't ask you to say it, but you made my point. You conceded that this stuff is illegal.

      • Hal Barton

        so, you agree, some laws are stupid and illogical and freedom sapping and in which case we who have listened to Thomas Jefferson know they should be carefully ignored or even rebelled against

  • Dune Fan

    I can’t believe how off topic this thread has become.

    But I want to point out that most drugs don’t get flushed in their original form. A certain percentage of any drug is not metabolized and is passed out of the body. More drugs are pissed out on a regular basis than from people cleaning out their cabinets. I can’t wait until the EPA tries to regulate cocaine in the drinking water.

  • USMCSniper

    It is all about controlling every aspect of our lives. This is how far it has gone. According to Sheryl Crow's new strictures, the average person should use "only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where two to three could be required. Crow's environmental opinions are not limited to toilet paper. She also believes paper napkins "represent the height of wastefulness", while she has designed a clothing line which features a detachable "dining sleeve" that wearers can use to wipe their mouth while eating. Oh My.

  • eyes wide open

    What Mr.Trzupek " the scientist " ignores , and Mr.USMCSniper is simply ignorant of , is the reality , that hormonal drugs act in low levels , and although , there has been no study to show effects on humans , effect have indeed been recorded in biological systems …you know like fish . Fish in rivers where hormonal drugs like estrogen were introduced into the environment began producing offspring with dual sexual organs . But Wait …"the scientist " Mr.Trzupek fails to make and obvious observation , that drugs in the water supply , while not proven to cause disruptions in the human Endocrine System , have in fact caused serious defects in the reproductive systems of Fish , but so deceptively covers his arse by using the qualifying " COULD " …good show Trzupek , did you ignore that FACT ? And mr USMCSniper …did you KNOW that fact ..
    Atleast Trzupeck has a dual agenda as a political hack and a shill for industry , but Mr.Sniper is just a wind up parrot .

  • http://www.threedonia.com Rich Trzupek

    Dear Readers,

    As a rule, I try to stay out of the comment fray, in the belief that – having had my say – you all should have yours. However, the question of my personal agenda has been raised and I think that deserves a response. The implication seems to be that since I am an industry guy means that my perspective is poisoned and, accordingly, motivated by self interest.

    I've never attempted to hide the fact that I am an advocate for American industry and I don't apologize for doing so. Thanks to Sniper and others for pointing out that I have made it abundantly clear where I am coming from. But if you think that picking up my pen to argue against environmental excess is personally profitable, you are badly mistaken. Indeed, most of my colleagues in this side of the business are convinced that I have lost my mind. Every time EPA passes a new regulation, increases enforcement or creates a new scare, demands for my services and people like me goes up. I am clearly working against my personal self-interest when I write about this stuff. But, in my view, the green agenda has gotten so completely out of control that it is my obligation to speak out – personal consequences be damned.

    The left always seem to figure that their critics are motivated by a desire to fill our pockets. I don't suspect that will ever change. So be it. But the simple truth of the matter – one that leftists will never, ever accept – is that a great many of us here on the right are driven speak out because we believe the truth is being grossly distorted in populist political smog.

    Could I be wrong? Of course. But the idea that I – and the many scientists like me (assuming that we still count chemistry among the sciences) who speak out against the radical, green agenda – are motivated by personal profit is ridiculous.

    Cheers,

    Rich