Drinking water full of drugs

Drinking water full of drugs

Until the time, all countries are able to filter their ‘clean’ drinking water from drugs: Let’s avoid flushing drugs.

Our sewers are pharmacological pools, filled with drugs. Think of traces of painkillers, birth control pills, beta blockers, antidepressants and more.

The sewers are filled with drugs through our urine and because people are flushing the old drugs in the toilet. It can not be filtered out completely. 

Moreover, an aging population means rising drug usage, which is not without consequences for humans and the environment. So what are we gonna do about it?


The substances in the drug residues disturb the water balance. For example, they make less edible algae, causing fish and water fleas hungry. Estrogen from birth control pills even leads to sex changes in male fish, as evidenced found by, inter alia, roach, gudgeon and bream.


But also people who are drinking water from their tap, are getting the drug residues inside. It is not yet possible to filter all the drugs out of the water. Except Nanofiltration but this is still in the laboratorium phase. Nanofiltration filters the smalles particles from our drinking water. Isn’t that great news? In times, our drinking water will be really clean.

Urination drug residues are hard to counter. But we can prevent the dumping of medications in the toilet or sink. So consumers need to know that – instead of flushing – medications can be recycled.

In a small country like the Netherlands, every day 427 kilos of drugs is thrown away. By consumers, hospitals and nursing homes. A waste of at least 100 million euros.

Drugs solution

The University Twente developed a new weapon in the fight against medicines, hormones and pesticides in our drinking water. The membranes which will filter the water from the smallest particles, are built with nanofiltration, base on new, synthetic polymers.

Professor Erik Roesink (membrane technology):

“On laboratory scale, we have been so successful that we are ready to launch our product at the market with the spinoff NX Filtration.”


But until the time, all countries are able to filter their ‘clean’ drinking water from drugs: Let’s avoid flushing drugs.

  • Check to see if there is a program for drug disposal in your area.
  • Contact the waste disposal authority in your city or town and ask, or check their website.
  • In the USA, start here.  In Canada, start here.  For the UK, read here.  Australia?  Start here.


MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology
read this blog: Nanofiltration cleans drinking water
The Netherlands
+31 53 489 1050


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