Are There Drugs in Our Drinking Water?

You have got to love the following quote. It was given by the head of a group representing major water suppliers in California to the Associated Press, after they asked about their reluctance to provide the results of drug tests on their treated water. The reason given was…the public “doesn’t know how to interpret the information” and might be unduly alarmed. This articles tells you what we do know is going into our drinking water supplies and I think you will be able to “interpret the information”. After you’ve read it, please let me know if you were “unduly alarmed”.

Unduly alarmed… unduly alarmed at finding sex hormones, antibiotics, heart medications, anabolic steroids, oral contraceptives, etc. in our drinking water.

Why would anyone be unduly alarmed?

When fish in the Potomac River (Washington DC’s main water source) have been found to have both male and female characteristics from exposure to estrogen-like substances (some had both testes and an ovary) we might “be unduly alarmed”!

Ya think?

The federal government hasn’t set any limits on the amount of drugs allowed in our drinking water and, consequently, no testing for their presence is required by water providers and, yes, this includes bottled water providers.

Some states, cities and independent labs have tested drinking water for drugs and here is some of what they found:

1. Philadelphia found 56 pharmaceuticals or byproducts in its treated drinking water which included medicines for pain, infection, high cholesterol, asthma, epilepsy, mental illness and heart problems. The city’s watersheds contained 63 drugs or byproducts.

2. 18.5 million people in Southern California were drinking anti-epileptic and anti-anxiety medications along with their water, and a sex hormone was detected in San Francisco’s drinking water.

3. Washington, D.C., draws its water from the Potomac River where many thousands of homes dump waste water and runoff from failing septic systems directly into the river. Not surprisingly, they reported positive tests for six pharmaceuticals.

4. New York State’s main water supplies tested positive for heart medicine, infection fighters, estrogen, anti-convulsants, a tranquilizer and a mood stabilizer.

Thirty-four of the sixty-two major water suppliers contacted in one survey reported they did no testing for drugs and many of the water providers that do test for drugs only test for a few.

Those of us connected to large water suppliers are not the only ones concerned. People in the rural areas, on their own wells, are very worried about the presence of drugs in the groundwater.

And bottled water users don’t always dodge the bullet either. The bottled water main trade group admits that many bottlers simply repackage tap water and don’t treat or test for pharmaceuticals.

How do drugs get into our water supplies in the first place?

Most of them come from us. We are a nation awash in drugs, legal and otherwise, we buy them and flush them, either unused or not metabolized.

Similarly, some come from large farm animals being treated for injury or diseases or being given hormones to increase their size, or milk production, etc.

Even from our pets…the small animal veterinary drug market now exceeds five billion dollars a year.

A recent Associated Press study reported, “at least 250 million pounds of pharmaceuticals and contaminated packaging”, is being flushed down the drain annually by U.S. hospitals and long-term care facilities.

Now, think about that for a moment, hospital waste by the tons filled with germs and antibiotics. It did not take scientist long to link such dumping to antibiotic-resistant germs and genetic mutation that may promote cancers according to the AP.

So far, most of these drugs have been found in minute amounts, leading some experts to declare that, based on what we now know, there is little need for concern.

They say things like “one part in a trillion is like one second in 32,000 years.”

But if you get one or two of those parts with every glass of water you drink, or every shower you take or every meal you eat that was prepared using tap water…how many seconds, minutes or hours will that come to? What’s the long term effect?

Medical experts point out that medicines are chemicals designed to act in a very specific manner on the body at very small doses and when these drugs are tested for safety approval, the time frame is over a matter of months, not over a lifetime.

Laboratory research results show that small amounts of medication have affected human embryonic kidney cells, human blood cells and human breast cancer cells. Cancer cells reproduced too rapidly, kidney cells grew too slowly and blood cells behaved as if inflamed.

I don’t know about you, but I am alarmed about what is going into our water supplies and I don’t think unduly so.

I know our leaders are concerned about the drugs in our drinking water and I’m sure they will gather the data over the coming years to make the case for more testing, better water purification, etc. but I don’t think anyone should wait for the government to get it done.

If you don’t have a water purification system in your home I would recommend you get one as soon as you can. If I could, I would buy a water purifier for everyone who reads this article. But I can’t.

What I can do is guide you to water purifiers with cutting edge technology that will provide you and your family healthy water to drink, to bathe in, and to cook with.