Does Flushing Hormones Down the Toilet Affect You?
Michelle Vu
David Thompson Secondary
Floor Location : M 132 V

As the population of human increases, more and more people are choosing to take the precaution of having protected sexual intercourse, to reduce the likelihood of unplanned pregnancy by using methods such as an oral contraceptive, commonly known as the birth control pill. Birth control pills are oral contraceptives that lowers, almost eliminating the chance of developing a fetus. Birth control pills have many negative side effects on humans, such as increased chances of infertility in the future, weight gain, headaches, as well as many other health effects. As well, the birth control pill can interfere with the making of an important protein named thyroglobulin. Thyroglobulin is the protein that works with the thyroid, therefore if thyroglobulin production is failing, thyroid issues may come up. Not all the effects of birth control are negative though, for example birth control helps prevent acne by balancing the hormones in your body. As drugs become the solution to many of our health problems, the excess waste from humans such as urine may contain small concentrations of the medication remnants that may not have been absorbed by the human body.

To understand the effects of hormones found in birth control pills, multiple experiments were done to test whether birth control pills has an effect on the living life in our environment. This experiment was conducted using Daphnia Magna, a micro-organism that resides in bodies of fresh water and the Artemia, a micro-organism that lives in bodies of salt water.
In the first experiment, Artemia were used to replicate the environment of inland saltwater habitats. The Artemias used were raised from eggs to the nauplii (early stages of life) before tests were done. Fifteen Artemias were placed into four Petri dishes filled with water dissolved with one 0.08-gram birth control pill each, excluding the control. It was found that once the Artemia were exposed to birth control contaminated water they experienced a shorter lifespan and an increase in flaps per minute. The observations were very similar to the effects of Artemia in caffeine.

In the test using Daphnia Magna, birth control pills were dissolved in mildly hard water, the ideal habitat for Daphnia Magna. Afterwards, the Daphnia Magna was placed into the birth control dissolved water and observed over a three-day time. It was observed that the Daphnia Magna were all dead within 44 hours of the experiment, the control living the full lifespan.
The future holds more opportunities to explore the effects of not only birth control pills but also more medications and drugs and their effects on the environment. With more research and testing done on this topic, humans can cut down their usage of medications, or create medications and drugs that are more environmentally friendly.