Undergraduate Honors Thesis


Examining Potential Effects of the Pharmaceutical Disposal Process on Water Sources in Colorado Through Current Federal and State Policies Public Deposited

  • As water scarcity in the United States and Colorado increases, the importance of research into the potential risks that depleting water levels can have on our environment as pollutants concentrate will be instrumental in strengthening public and environmental health. This thesis explores the potential effects the pharmaceutical disposal process has on water sources in Colorado through a multi-goal policy analysis approach that examines both state and federal policies in the United States and Colorado using an extensive literature review. Water Treatment plants and current technologies were explored to investigate current practices in Colorado and the United States. While current water treatment processes are extensive, they are unable to filter out pharmaceutical traces, which poses a risk to the environment when considering prescribed medications such as birth control, containing 17a-ethinylestradiol (estrogen), can be a biohazard for local wildlife and a potential threat to agriculture. Primary research was conducted through a Survey Study using the online platform Qualtrics, with a total of 107 participants answering survey questions regarding individual pharmaceutical disposal habits. Although there are many state and federal regulations and policies such as DEA Take Back programs, survey responses showed that 67.29% of participants were not aware of Take Back programs before participating. The lack of public awareness for safe disposal habits defeats the purpose of these programs, and more public outreach should be a top priority for stakeholders, as well as considering implementation of new water treatment technologies that specifically target pharmaceutically active compounds (PhACs).

Date Awarded
  • 2023-04-06
Academic Affiliation
Committee Member
Granting Institution
Last Modified
  • 2023-04-19
Resource Type
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