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Glossary

Bacterial Resistance to Antibiotics - The ability of bacteria and other microorganisms that cause infections to develop ways to survive drugs meant to kill or weaken them. This is due largely to the increasing use of antibiotics. Other contributing factors include incorrect diagnosis, unnecessary prescriptions, improper use of antibiotics by patients, and the use of antibiotics as livestock food additives for growth promotion.

Biodegradable - A characteristic of materials that makes them capable of being broken down into harmless products by the feeding action of living things such as bacteria and other microscopic organisms.

Conventional Pollutants - Substances, which are biodegradable (i.e., bacteria can break them down), occur naturally in the aquatic environment, and, in large amounts deplete the dissolved oxygen concentration in water, which is necessary for the survival of fish and other aquatic life. These pollutants include suspended solids, biochemical oxygen demanding materials, oil and grease, fecal coliform, and pH.

Hormone - A chemical messenger produced in one part of the body and released into the blood to trigger or regulate particular functions of the body in another part. Hormones are produced by nearly every organ system and tissue type but probably the best-known hormones are those produced by the endocrine glands associated with growth and reproduction.

Household Hazardous Waste - Any leftover household product that is labeled toxic, poison, corrosive, flammable, combustible, or irritant and that you want to discard but which should not be put in the trash. This can include certain cleaning supplies, automotive products, household batteries, paint products, pesticides, other household chemicals, and electronic products (TVs, computers, etc.).

Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center/Event - A place where residents can drop off their household hazardous wastes, free of charge. These drop off sites include permanent centers and limited events (e.g. one-day scheduled events in rotating locations).

Intentional Ingestion - Knowingly and purposely swallowing something. In the context of waste pharmaceuticals, this is typically the intentional ingestion of medicines scavenged from someone else's trash for the purpose of getting high.

Land Application - The practice of placing certain organic materials on land to condition (improve) the soil and/or fertilize crops or vegetation.

Medication - A licensed drug that is used to prevent/treat/alleviate an illness, disease, or other medical condition according to established medical guidelines. Medications can be both prescribed by a physician and sold over-the-counter in pharmacies and supermarkets. The term medication is often used interchangeably with drug (referring to those legally obtained), medicine, and pharmaceutical.

Medicine - see Medication.

Organic - Of or related to a substance primarily composed of carbon obtained from plant or animal sources, whereas inorganic compounds are obtained from mineral sources and synthetic compounds are man-made. All living matter is organic.

Over-the-Counter - Medications sold without a prescription.

Pharmaceutical - see Medication.

Reclaimed Water - Wastewater that has been highly treated to protect public health and, therefore, can be used in place of potable water (i.e. of drinking water quality) for certain uses including landscape and agricultural irrigation, industrial process water, recreational impoundments, wildlife habitats, and groundwater replenishment.

Sewer - A pipe that transports wastewater (used water) in a sewer system.

Sewer System - A system of interconnected, underground pipes and pumps that transport wastewater (used water) from homes, businesses, or industries to the centralized wastewater treatment plant. The sewer system and wastewater treatment plant can be either publicly or privately owned and operated, however, the former is more typical.

Sewerage Service - The service purchased by a residence, business, or industry that allows them to discharge wastewater (used water) into the sewer system for treatment at a centralized plant.

Treat [waste medication] - The act of making the flavor of a waste medication that is going to be disposed of in the trash very unpleasant in order to discourage people and animals from putting it into their mouths and swallowing it.

Veterinary Medicines - Medicines used to treat injury and illness in domestic and agricultural animals. Examples include flea control chemicals and heartworm medications for household pets and growth control hormones and antibiotics for agricultural animals.

Wastewater - Also known as sewage, this is the used water from a home (residential), community business (commercial), and/or industry (industrial) that is discharged to a series of pipes (sewers) in the ground and transported to central facility (wastewater treatment plant) for treatment. This water contains dissolved and solid materials (pollutants) from bathroom, kitchen, laundry, and manufacturing activities which must be removed before the water is returned to the environment.

Wastewater Agency - Typically a public agency that owns and operates a wastewater treatment plant and who is responsible for removing pollutants from wastewater.

Wastewater Treatment - The process of removing pollutants from water that has been used. There are three different stages of treatment. Primary treatment involves screening the water to remove the largest solids and then letting the water sit in tanks so that smaller particles can be removed when they sink to the bottom. Secondary treatment uses bacteria and other microscopic organisms to eat or biodegrade the organic pollutants that were not removed during primary treatment. During tertiary treatment, the water passes though a filter. Following treatment the water is disinfected and released back into nature. Water that leaves wastewater treatment plants must meet strict federal and state requirements.

Wastewater Treatment Plant - The facility where the wastewater treatment process is carried out.


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Medications in The Environment Disposal Instructions Further Info


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