An Associated Press team wanted to answer these questions for us when investigating the water supplies of at least 41 million Americans. The results were more than surprising and not in a good way.
The AP discovered a vast array of pharmaceuticals, including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones. It’s true that the concentrations of these pharmaceuticals are tiny, far below the levels of a medical dose, but everyone drinks water and according to doctors’ advice we shall drink it in high quantities to keep ourselves healthy. Therefore, high quantity of water leads to also ingurgitating high quantities of those substances. Scientists have already expressed their worries about the long-term consequences to human health.
“We recognize it is a growing concern and we’re taking it very seriously,” said Benjamin H. Grumbles, assistant administrator for water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the AP reports.
The AP’s five-month analysis discovered the drugs in the drinking water supplies of 24 major metropolitan areas, from Southern California to Northern New Jersey, from Detroit to Louisville, Ky. What is worst is that water providers rarely disclose results of pharmaceutical screenings, unless pressed, the AP found.
The AP’s findings result from the reviewing of hundreds of scientific reports, the analysis of federal drinking water database, the visit of environmental study sites and treatment plants and answers of more than 230 officials, academics and scientists. They also surveyed the nation’s 50 largest cities and a dozen other major water providers, as well as smaller community water providers in all 50 states.
The investigation found 56 pharmaceuticals or byproducts in treated drinking water, including medicines for pain, infection, high cholesterol, asthma, epilepsy, mental illness and heart problem in Philadelphia; anti-epileptic and anti-anxiety medications in a portion of the treated water for 18.5 million people in Southern California; a metabolized angina medicine and the mood-stabilizing carbamazepine in drinking water in a water treatment plant serving 850,000 people in Northern New Jersey; a sex hormone in San Francisco; about six pharmaceuticals in the water for Washington D.C. and surrounding areas, three medications in the water supplied to Tucson, Ariz. And the counting could go on…
However, only 28 water providers permitted their water to be tested from the 62 contacted. Water providers from Houston, Chicago, Miami, Baltimore, Phoenix, Boston and New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection, which delivers water to 9 million people chose to stay away from the investigation.
Living in Manhattan doesn’t keep you away from trouble also. The New York state health department and the USGS tested the source of the city’s water and found trace concentrations of heart medicine, infection fighters, estrogen, anti-convulsants, a mood stabilizer and a tranquilizer. Contacted by the AP investigators, city water officials declined to answer questions. However, they issued a statement saying that “New York City’s drinking water continues to meet all federal and state regulations regarding drinking water quality in the watershed and the distribution system.”
What is the worst is that not even users of bottled water and home filtration systems do necessarily avoid the exposure. And that happens because, according to the industry’s main trade group, bottlers do not typically treat or test for pharmaceuticals. The same goes for the makers of home filtration systems.
One source of contamination could be that fact that Americans took drugs and flushed them unmetabolized or unused in growing amounts. The medication passes through and is flushed down the toilet. The wastewater is treated before it is discharged into reservoirs, rivers or lakes. Then, some of the water is cleansed again at drinking water treatment plants and piped to consumers. Bit most treatments do not remove all drug residue.
Researchers also discovered that adding chlorine, a common process in conventional drinking water treatment plants, make some pharmaceuticals more toxic.
And people are not the only ones to contaminate the water, it seems. Animals are too, as they are treated for their illnesses with the same drugs as humans.
This investigation leads us to a major concern for our health. If water is not safe, what else can we trust to be safe? Or is there anything else out there that is safe for our health? Guess not…
Have you ever wondered what is that you like so much about water? Personally, I don’t think there are so many of us who have wondered that or what other chemicals reside in our drinking water, and yet the taste is so good…