Keep fish healthy. Avoid dumping pharmaceuticals down the drain.

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As regular readers of OnEarth.org know, hospitals and nursing homes routinely dump leftover or expired pills down the toilet, and consumers have been advised to do the same. But drug-laden effluent passes right through standard treatment facilities, ultimately making its way into our rivers and streams. The EPA reports that antidepressants can have a profound effect on spawning and other behaviors in shellfish and that calcium-channel blockers (used to relieve chest pain and hypertension) can dramatically inhibit sperm activity in some aquatic organisms. Even at extremely low levels, ibuprofen, steroids and antifibrotics—a class of drug that helps reduce the development of scar tissue—block fin regeneration in fish.

Avoid dumping pharmaceuticals down the drain. Instead, mix them with waste and put them in the trash, following the procedures recommended by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the American Pharmacists Association and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

Check out NRDC's Coastal Dwellers Guide for more things you can do at home to keep waterways clean.