What are we flushing down the drain?

Chris D. Metcalfe, Environmental and Resource Studies, Trent University, Peterborough, ON

14 January 2010 at 10:30

Location: JHE 326H

There are a variety of chemicals that we flush down the drain that wind up passing through municipal wastewater treatment plants and into the environment. These chemicals include “personal care products” such as cosmetics, soaps, shampoos, toothpaste and mouthwash, as well as prescription and non-prescription drugs that we excrete into sewage. These chemicals can enter the Canadian environment when municipal wastewater is discharged into rivers and lakes, and when sewage sludge (i.e. biosolids) is applied onto agricultural land as a soil treatment. In this presentation, Dr. Metcalfe will assess the risks to the environment and to human health as a result of the release of “down the drain” chemicals into surface waters and onto agricultural land. Dr. Metcalfe will also review what can be done to reduce these risks, and will comment on Canada’s regulatory approach to down the drain chemicals, relative to other international jurisdictions. Dr. Metcalfe will also speak about a new initiative to evaluate the hazards associated with products that contain “nanomaterials”.

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