Are Fido’s Meds Polluting The Water?

Americans will spend nearly $60 billion on their pets this year and a lot of that money goes for vet care. Some of those pet meds are contaminating our waters. | credit: Flickr/Claire
Americans will spend nearly $60 billion on their pets this year and a lot of that money goes for vet care. Some of those pet meds are contaminating our waters. | credit: Flickr/Claire


Olivia Poblacion, OPB


Animal lovers are spending more on their pets than ever, and a lot of that money is going into vet care.

But medications the vet prescribes for Fido’s health may be contaminating our watersheds.

Just like pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) for humans, soaps and medicines for pets contain compounds that can harm aquatic ecosystems.

“There is a cocktail of chemicals being detected in our watersheds,” said Sam Chan, a watershed health specialist with the Oregon Sea Grant.

Even though the concentrations are low, PPCPs in watersheds have still been shown to impact the development and behavior of fish and can make them more susceptible to predation.

The National Sea Grant program recently partnered with the American Veterinary Medicine Association to promote the reduction of improper PPCP disposal. As part of this project, Chan and other researchers at OSU are launching a national survey to learn more about the practices and awareness of this issue among pet owners and veterinary professionals.

“The main way people dispose of these products is by throwing them in the garbage,” Chan said. “It seems like a reasonable solution, but when they go to the landfill, rain seeps through and then the water is contaminated with those compounds.”

So what’s the best way to get rid of unused PPCP’s for pets? Definitely don’t flush them. Chan recommends either taking them to a drug take-back event or mixing them with something unpalatable to pets (such as coffee grounds) and then putting them in a sealed container and depositing in the trash.

Mother Earth is Drowning in Garbage

AP/5 GYRESIn this February 15, 2010 photo released by 5 Gyres, a coastal area of the Azores Islands in Portugal, is shown littered with plastic garbage.
In this February 15, 2010 photo released by 5 Gyres, a coastal area of the Azores Islands in Portugal, is shown littered with plastic garbage.

“Thus he learned that there are spirits in the water – that water is life.” – Wichita Legend of the Water Spirit


The tragedy of Malaysian flight 370, which disappeared en route to China, has brought attention to a distressing fact about our “civilized” society, that we are now drowning in our own garbage. For a full month, searchers have had to comb through an ocean full of waste, making an already extremely difficult task almost impossible. On March 8, the day after the plane was scheduled to land in Beijing, Vietnamese air force planes spotted two massive oil slicks, each between six and nine miles long, that were at first assumed to have been caused by the airliner, but when sampled turned out to be bunker oil for ships. The next day, the Vietnamese also spotted what they thought was a life raft and a door from the plane, but those items turned out to be floating junk.

Two days later, the Chinese reported that their satellites had spotted debris from the plane in the South China Sea, between Malaysia and Vietnam, but this too turned out to be more floating garbage. As the search shifted to the southern Indian Ocean, one of the most isolated and inhospitable regions on earth, satellites from several countries began to spot hundreds of objects, but all turned out to be floating waste. The amount of garbage in the oceans is so great and widespread that it was throwing off the search and rescue teams, and in the end they were forced to focus on analyzing the radar and electronic signals to narrow down the search area.

The pollution of the oceans, and of all water, is a serious threat to our well-being, for water, as indigenous people know well, is the essence of life. Yet civilized society has an almost complete disregard for clean water. Cholera, a disease unknown in the Americas before European settlement, derives from contaminated water. As the pioneers traveled westward, using rivers, streams and lakes as toilets (while at the same time drinking from them), the now contaminated waters killed countless Indians and nearly wiped out entire tribes, such as the Comanche, Hidatsa and Choctaw. More than 150,000 Americans are also believed to have died in the pandemics of 1832 and 1849, including former President James Polk. Due to cholera, Chicago had one of the highest death rates in the world between 1885 and 1890, losing more than 12 percent of its population.

Nor has time made civilized society any wiser. Up until 1970s, with the advent of clean water legislation in the U.S., the average American city sewage treatment plant consisted of a long pipe into the ocean, or lacking a nearby ocean, a lake or a river. It was also common to dump household garbage in the oceans or lakes. New York City dumped more than a million tons of garbage a year in the New York Bight, creating the first ocean “garbage patch.” An article in Indian Country Today Media Network one year ago, entitled, “Lake Erie has a Garbage Patch That Rivals the Oceans,” found that much more needs to be done to preserve Americas water.

RELATED: Lake Erie has a Garbage Patch That Rivals the Oceans

Despite some strides in America to maintain clean water, other countries have done little. More than 818 million people in India and 607 million people in China have no sewage facilities at all.

Much of the debris floating in the oceans is plastic, which degrades extremely slowly and eventually becomes toxic to marine life. A 2006 United Nations Environment report estimated that every square kilometer of world’s ocean has an average of 13,000 pieces of plastic litter floating on the surface. In the most polluted garbage patches, located in every ocean, the mass of plastic is greater than that of plankton, the algae upon which all oceanic life depends (the grass of the oceans), sometime by an order of five to six times. Experts believe that virtually every fish, sea turtle, or seabird now has plastic inside of it. Not only are the plastics toxic in themselves, they act like sponges, soaking up other toxins in the oceans. When devoured, the toxins work their way up the food chain, eventually impacting human health.

Parasitic diseases similar to cholera are now spreading to marine mammals such as killer whales, as the ocean waters become filled with human and animal excrement. Yet little is being done to combat this menace. The last international agreement concerning ocean dumping and pollution was a protocol signed in 1996, however it was not ratified by the U.S., nor has it been ratified by enough countries (there must be at least 26) to come into force. The last international marine debris conference, held 2011 in Honolulu, ended with no concrete program for international action.

It was long presumed that dumping in the ocean meant that pollution was out of sight, and thus could be ignored. But now the chickens, or their byproducts, are coming back to haunt our modern society. The search for Flight 370 may not have found the plane yet, but it may have discovered something far more important, and far more tragic.





Mni water is life By: Matt Remle

mnipic-480x210By Matt Remle; Source: Last real Indians

In the beginning was Inyan and Inyan was surrounded in total darkness. Inyan began creation by draining its blood creating a massive disk around itself. Inyan called this disk Maka, the earth, which was half of the disk. The other half was Mni, water. Inyan continued to drain its blood creating Mahpiya, the sky, Anpetu Wi, the sun and daytime, Hanhepi Wi, the moon and nighttime. As Inyan continued to drain its blood life began on Maka with the grasses, plants, flowers, trees and so on.

The last of Inyan’s creation was Winyan and Wicasa, woman and man. Winyan, woman, was created first and created to be like Maka, the earth, to give and nourish life. Wicasa, man, was created to be like the universe to protect and provide nourishment. After creating Winyan and Wicasa, and creation was complete, Inyan became dry and brittle and broke and scattered all over Maka.

The base word of Mni, one of Inyan’s first creations, is ni. The word ni means “to be alive”. Water is life.

Great Pacific garbage patch

Located in the Northern Pacific Ocean lies the Great Pacific garbage patch, also referred to as the Pacific Trash Vortex, and it is a massive patch that is described as a highly concentrated mixture of plastics, chemical sludge and other debris that has become stuck in the currents of the Northern Pacific Gyre. The toxic stew comes from a mixture of trash and debris coming from the coasts of Asia and North America, as well as, debris from cargo ships crossing the Pacific. While the exact size of the garbage patch is hard to determine, estimates range from 5,800,000 sq miles to up to being twice the size of the United States.

The impacts from this toxic debris are especially harsh on marine life as debris from the patch is found in the stomachs of fish, birds, turtles and other aquatic life. The Great Pacific garbage patch also works to block sunlight from reaching algae and phytoplankton, of which the entire marine food web is based on.

The decline in phytoplankton is particularly worry some, in that not only do they help provide the base of the marine food web, but they are responsible for producing half of the world’s oxygen supply. It is estimated by researchers that since the Industrial revolution phytoplankton populations have decreased by 40%.

A similar vortex of trapped garbage debris has also been found in the Atlantic ocean.

Map by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Map by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)


Dead Zones

A dead zone occurs in the world’s oceans, mainly coast lines, and lakes when oxygen is depleted in those waters to the point that the marine life in those areas dies-off. Dead zones are caused by excessive human pollution. Dead zone’s are particularly prevalent on the Eastern coast of the United States, as well as, the coasts of Europe, China, Japan, New Zealand and South America.

The Gulf of Mexico, off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana, hosts the world’s largest dead zone with estimates ranging to being larger than the state of Connecticut.

Dead zones have also been found off the coast of Oregon, St. Lawrence River and Lake Erie.


Map of Aquatic Dead Zones

KXL Pipeline

If constructed, the Keystone XL pipeline would cross two major aquifers, the Ogallala and the Texas Carrizo-Wilcox. The Ogallala aquifer is the largest in the western North America region. The Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer provides drinking water to roughly twelve-million people in Easter Texas. Construction of the KXL pipeline threatens the possibility of water contamination in these regions due to possible leaks, ruptures, or other activity.

Tar Sands

Fresh water plays an essential role in the development of the oil sands process. In 2010, averages of 3.1 barrels of fresh water were needed to produce 1 barrel of oil sands. Over the course of a year the amount of fresh water used averages 170 million m3 per year2, which is roughly over 40% of the City of Toronto’s total fresh water consumption per year.

Fresh water used for Tar Sands operations comes mainly from the Athabasca River, home to the Dene and Cree First Nations. In addition to drying up fresh water sources tar sands mining causes massive amounts of toxins to be released in the water supply.

Syncrude Aurora Oil Sands Mine, Canada.

Syncrude Aurora Oil Sands Mine, near Fort McMurray, Canada. (SOURCE:



Like the tar sands production process, fracking uses huge quantities of fresh water. Highly pressurized water, mixed with chemicals, is injected into shale formations to break up and release oil and natural gases. Once used, the now contaminated water is left in massive open air pits.

In the small town of Barnhart, Texas the double impact of climate change and fracking has literally dried out the town’s water supply. In less than two years fracking companies used over 8 million gallons of fresh water leaving the town dry.

It is estimated that by year’s end another 30 small Texan towns will see their water wells go dry due to fracking.

Coal Exports

The proposed coal exports seek to bring coal from the Powder River basin via rail to the Pacific Northwest where it will be exported primarily to China. The trains will cross numerous rivers, creeks, streams, and lakes where the uncapped coal has the potential to spill and pollute. The largest of the export terminals is proposed for Cherry Point, WA sacred grounds to the Lummi Nation. If built, the massive export terminal would threaten not only sacred sites, but also threaten the entire ecosystem of sea life in the area.


Know water know life, No water no life


Above is but a snapshot of just a few of the ways in which Mni, life, is under assault and or threatened. On a global scale Mni has been under assault due to militarism, corporate activity, toxic waste facilities, nuclear power plants (tens of millions of gallons of nuclear waste has seeped into the ground water at the Hanford Nuclear Power Plant in WA State) and other forms of pollution. It is no cliché to say that water is life and the impacts from its desecration are real. It would seem that of all the issues we, as children on Maka, could agree on is that Mni, water, is sacred and its protection in essential.

We have moved into a time where we must remember who and what we are as children of Maka, as relatives to All Our Relations. The children of profit are stepping up their assault on all life and it is essential that we collectively stand together with our first mother and all our relatives to fulfill our responsibilities to give, nourish and protect all life.

Mitakuye oyasin Wakinyan Waanatan (Matt Remle)