Health Care Practices Provide Alternatives to the Threat of Rising
Amidst the onslaught of bad news disseminated daily about toxins
in our environment and the corresponding negative repercussions to
our health, the Teleosis Institute has released a roadmap of positive,
direct actions that citizens and health professionals can take to be
part of the solution.
"Discussing phthalates, BCPs, formaldehyde, and arsenic not only requires
the use of words we can barely pronounce, it also seems to numb our senses," says
Teleosis Institute's Founding Director Dr. Joel Kreisberg. Instead, Dr.
Kreisberg's health publication, Symbiosis: The Journal
Sustainable Medicine, provides readers with current research and data that shows
the urgency of the topic and offers simple steps people can take to reduce the
negative impacts of environmental degradation on human health.
(Visit http://www.teleosis.org/pdf/symbiosis/There_Medicine_Waters.pdf to
read a free Symbiosis article: "There is
Medicine in These Waters.)
Among the urgent issues discussed in the just-released volume of Symbiosis – which
focuses on our relationship with toxins in the environment – is the prevalent
appearance of commonly used medicine in our drinking water. Our municipal drinking
water typically contains 100 or so pharmaceutical drugs and personal care products
in significant concentrations.1 Various medicines, including hormones, antidepressants,
hypertension- and cholesterol-reducing medications, and antibiotics end up
in our waterways.2 A recent study3 found that a mixture of 13 common medications
from drinking water inhibited cell growth and caused negative changes to human
"When dealing with our society's waste stream, we have not yet come
to grips with the fact that hormones and antibiotics are being washed back into
our oceans, our animals, and our food products," Kreisberg explains. "Pharmaceuticals
are used at a very high cost to us; they end up in our environment or in our
bodies. Did you know that the average baby born in the United States right now
has over 200 chemicals in their system?"
In response to this situation, Teleosis advocates for the implementation of
sustainable medical practices as a first line of defense before pharmaceutical
drugs are indiscriminately prescribed. The current issue of Symbiosis offers
a checklist for physicians that includes the following:
- taking cost-effectiveness and environmental impact into account
when comparing medications that are equally safe and suitable for
- prescribing starter packs and/or refill packs, if available
more about drugs that have large environmental impacts by using
the web site http://www.janusinfo.se/imcms/servlet/GetDoc?meta_id=7240,
and by asking for information from the pharmaceutical company
For consumers, the simple pollution prevention solution proposed
in Symbiosis is to return unused
medications to a participating pharmacy rather than flush them down
Kreisberg explains that with rising populations, pharmacological agents
will continue to emerge as unsuspected chemical pollutants. "It is our job
as health professionals to create 'clean medicine,' which is a
part of Green Health Care." Kreisberg says that Green Health Care requires
not only that a workplace be healthy for its occupants; Green Health Care involves
medical practices that do no harm to people or the environment. "While
current medical practices generate significant pollution, we do have health
care options that generate little if any waste. We can and must choose these
more enlightened practices," states Kreisberg.
The current issue of Symbiosis also
provides readers with guidelines on choosing less toxic household cleaners;
medicine, which offers far
less toxic treatments for the environment; and spending time in the sun wisely
by using sunscreen that does no harm to its user or the environment.
1. Hemminger P. Damming the flow of drugs into drinking water. Environmental
Health Perspectives. 2005;113(10): A678-A681.
2. Kolpin D, et al. Pharmaceuticals, hormones and other organic wastewater
contaminants in US streams, 1999-2000: a national reconnaissance. Environmental
Science and Technology. 2002; 26: 1202-1211. Available at: http://pubs.acs.org/journals/esthag/36/i06/pdf/es011055j.pdf Accessed June 20, 2006.
3. Pomati F, Castiglioni S, Zuccato E, Fanelli R, Vigetti D, Rossetti
C, Calamari D. Effects of a complex mixture of therapeutic drugs at
environmental levels on human embryonic cells. Environmental
Science & Technology.
The Teleosis Institute is an educational not-for-profit organization
devoted to developing effective, sustainable health care provided by
professionals who serve as environmental stewards. Its Green Health
Care Program is an integral process for health professionals committed
to improving human and environmental health. Symbiosis is a quarterly
online publication available to its members. Visit http://www.teleosis.org for more information.