Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’

What a trip: Drugs in US drinking water

A five month investigation by the Associated Press has discovered that small quantities of drugs, including antibiotics, sex hormones, and anti-seizure compounds, have been found in public drinking water supplied to over 40 million Americans across the US.

While the concentrations are so small they have to be measured in parts per billion or even parts per trillion, and water companies insist these levels are within safety limits, the AP said the long term effects on people’s health of so many prescription drugs and over the counter medicines such as acetaminophen (paracetamol) and ibuprofen, even in tiny amounts, are starting to worry scientists.

Drugs and their derivatives get into the drinking water supply because when people on medication go to the toilet they excrete whatever the body does not absorb and any matabolized byproducts. Water companies treat the waste before discharging it into rivers, lakes and reservoirs, and then treat it again before it enters the drinking water system. However, the various treatments don’t remove all traces of drugs.

For five months, the AP National Investigative Team visited treatment plants, interviewed over 200 scientists, officials and academics, analyzed federal databases and reviewed hundreds of scientific reports. Read the entire article at Medical News Today.

CNN also reported on this topic.

It’s distrurbing, but not at all surprising. It does stress the importance of safely discarding medicines. The best way is to put the old medicine in a plastic bag with some old coffee grounds (or other item that is displeasing to animals and humans) and putting it in the trash. Of course, once the bag is opened or punctured, the drugs can still be washed away into steams, lakes and eventually back into drinking water. Some states have come up with a drug recycling program, but those are rare and are limited in what they can take back.

As we see male fish developing female traits it’s obvious this is a situation to take seriously. And it’s not just drugs for humans that are causing these issues, it’s also drugs given to domestic pets and antibiotics given to stockyard animals raised for food.

Americans and our animals are way over-medicated.