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The Environmental Impact of Some Medications

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Kynzie Harrison

on 6 August 2015

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Transcript of The Environmental Impact of Some Medications

The activities of the pharmaceutical industry in drug preparation, administration, and disposal produce side-effects in the environment
Negative and potentially harmful to human health
Environmental side-effects are monitored with policies and procedures put in place to minimize their negative impact
Green Chemistry, or Sustainable Chemistry, was developed since 1991 to help try and reduce the side-effects
Green Chemistry
12 principles
Uses concepts such as avoiding waste, maximizing the amount of raw material that ends up in the product, and the use of safe solvents
Seeks to reduce the footprint of chemical manufacturing processes while improving product and environmental safety
12 Principles of Green Chemistry
1) Prevention-it is better to prevent waste than to treat or clean up waste after it has been created
2) Atom Economy-synthetic methods should be designed to maximize the incorporation of all materials used in the process into the final product
3) Less Hazardous Chemical Synthesis-whenever practicable, synthetic methods should be designed to use and generate substances that possess little or no toxicity to people or the environment
4) Designing Safer Chemicals-chemical products should be designed to effect their desired function while minimizing their toxicity
5) Safer Solvents and Auxiliaries-the use of auxiliary substances should be made unnecessary whenever possible and innocuous when used
6) Design for Energy Efficiency-energy requirements of chemical processes should be recognized for their environmental and economic impacts and should be minimized. If possible, synthetic methods should be conducted at ambient temperature and pressure.
Most drugs are complex molecules, so their synthesis and extraction involves multiple steps
In many parts of this process, organic solvents are used that may be toxic and hard to dispose of
It is estimated that 80% of the mass of reactants that does not end up in the pharmaceutical product is due to solvents, including water
Disposal of solvents often involves incineration, which can release toxins into the environment
Solvents are the biggest contributor to the emissions of the pharmaceutical industry
Suitability of the solvents can be assessed by three factors
Toxicity to workers
Safety of the process
Harm to the environment
Preferred Solvents
Ethyl Ethanrate
Undesirable Solvents
Diethyl Ether
12 Principles of Green Chemistry Con't.
7) Use of Renewable Feedstocks-a raw material or feedstock should be renewable rather than depleting whenever technically and economically practicable
8) Reduce Derivatives-unnecessary derivatization should be minimized or avoided if possible, because such steps require additional reagents and can generate waste
9) Catalysis-catalyctic reagents are superior to stoichiometric reagents
10) Design for Degradation-chemical products should be designed so that at the end of their function they break down into innocuous degradation products and do not persist in the environment
11) Real-Time Analysis for Pollution Prevention-analytical methods need to be further developed to allow for real-time, in-process monitoring and control prior to the formation of hazardous substances
12) Inherently Safer Chemistry for Accident Prevention-substances and the form of a substance used in a chemical process should be chosen to minimize the potential for chemical accidents, including releases, explosions, and fires
The Environmental Impact of Some Medications
Chlorinated compounds, ethers, and many aromatic compounds are considered problematic, and should, wherever possible, be replaced by water, alcohol, or possibly esters

One principle of Green Chemistry is the use of safer solvents and to avoid the use of auxiliaries where possible
Water is the safest solvent for the environment, and supercritical CO2 can also be used in some processes
Another principle is to prevent waste
Pharmaceutical companies are finding ways to reduce and reuse solvents in the synthesis process, so that there is less waste released into the environment
Detailed analysis of the entire energy costs has shown that solvent recycling programs can run at significantly lower costs than the total cost of the production of new solvent and burning of waste
The use of nuclear chemistry in the diagnosis and treatment of disease is a rapidly expanding area of medicine
Many of the techniques used are associated with some radioactive waste, which can be potentially hazardous to living things and the environment
The disposal of nuclear waste is therefore a growing problem
The method of disposal depends on the level of waste and the length of time it remains radioactive, which is determined by its half-life
High-level waste gives off large amounts of ionizing radiation for a long time
The isotopes have long half-lives
Most of the waste generated by nuclear medicines is low-level waste
Disposal usually involves first interim storage in sealed containers that are safe, secure, and environmentally sound
The radioactivity typically decays in hours or days, and the waste can then be disposed of by conventional means-compaction, landfill, or sewers for liquids
Spent isotopes from medical diagnosis techniques may generate some high-level waste, although this amount is quite small relative to the amount of high-level waste from spent fuel rods generated by the nuclear energy industry
The medical waste is often toxic as well as radioactive, and can have damaging effects in the environment
Disposal of high-level waste is a complex problem because products of the decay process may themselves be radioactive and continue to emit ionizing radiation
The decay process also often emit significant amounts of heat
High-level waste is usually stored first under water in reinforced cooling ponds for 5 to 10 years, and then transferred to dry storage in heavily shielded structures, often buried deep in the Earth
It is essential to prevent the radioactive waste from entering the underground water supply
An alternative innovative approach is to reduce the use of radioactive isotopes in diagnosis, by replacing them with florescent dyes
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