Drugs in Your Drinking Water?

Posted on June 3, 2014
Drugs in Drinking Water

The public water supply in the United States is considered one of the best, but it may be unsafe and contaminated. More than 60,000 chemicals are used in the United States but only 90 contaminants are regulated under the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Act. Under the Act, the EPA has set “safe standards” on the maximum contaminant levels allowed in public drinking water. Municipal water treatment plants then use these as guidelines for treating their drinking water for the public.

However, the Associated Press investigated the prevalence of tiny amounts of unregulated pharmaceuticals, including antibiotics, anticonvulsants, mood stabilizers, and sex hormones, in treated drinking water. Tiny concentrations of pharmaceuticals, measured in quantities of parts per billion or trillion, were found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans. Investigators detected prescription and over-the-counter medicines in the drinking water supplies of 24 major metropolitan areas from Southern California to Northern New Jersey and from Detroit to Louisville.

While far below the level of a medical dose, over time these pharmaceuticals could build up in your body and potentially damage your health according to some health experts. Lab research has revealed that small amounts of medication affected human embryonic kidney cells, blood cells, and breast cancer cells. Researchers contend that our bodies may shrug off a relatively big one-time dose yet suffer from smaller amounts delivered continuously over a half century, stirring allergies or nerve damage.

Some experts believe pharmaceuticals in water pose a unique danger because unlike most pollutants, pharmaceuticals are crafted to act on the human body. While they are tested to be safe for humans, the timeframe is usually over a matter of months, not for a lifetime. Even at normal medical doses, they can produce side effects and interact with other drugs, which is why they are prescribed to people who need them, not delivered to everyone in their drinking water.

Currently the federal government does not require any testing for pharmaceuticals in drinking water and has yet to set safety limits. And users of bottled water do not necessarily avoid exposure.  Bottlers, some of which simply repackage tap water, do not typically treat or test for pharmaceuticals. However, Quench bottleless water cooler is miniature water purification plant in your office: the good stuff stays in and the bad stuff comes out!

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