Pharmaceuticals In Our Drinking Water

Drugs in Drinking WaterTested positive for drugs lately? Yeah, everybody’s doing it, even if they don’t inhale.

The big commotion is over an Associated Press investigation of American drinking water:

A vast array of pharmaceuticals — including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones — have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans.

The AP report goes on to fill in the blanks, just in case the picture isn’t clear: People take pills. The medication passes through their bodies and into the sewers, maybe via one of these super-duper fancy toilets. It comes out the other end of the toilet as wastewater, which is a nicer word for the two things most often found in a diaper.

Drinking Toilet WaterThis wastewater runs through a sewer to a wastewater plant where it’s treated and then dumped into a reservoir/river/lake. Then, other cities pump water out of the reservoir/river/lake, clean it up a bit, and pipe it to your refrigerator’s chilled water dispenser.

But don’t worry, because, as columnist Gordon Dillow points out, the amounts of pharmaceutical drugs found in the drinking water were “tiny” and are measured in “parts per billion.” For example: in Orange County, California, you’d have to drink 250,000 gallons of water to get a 100-milligram dose of a popular mood stabilizing drug called carbamazepine.

The Big Wastewater Swimming Pool

P-GuardBut that’s a small comfort, because I don’t think it’s the amount of drugs in the water that has shocked so many readers. I think it’s the realization that they are drinking from the same giant swimming pool into which we’ve all been relieving ourselves.

The lightbulb has turned on, and millions who never thought this thought before are now pondering it: before my drinking water becomes drinking water, it flows downhill, but it’s certainly not the only thing that flows downhill.

Thus, people who turn squeamish in the face at the mention of astronauts drinking recycled water on the International Space Station, are coming to realize the Earth is very literally just a spaceship, and every ounce of water we drink has passed through another person’s plumbing.

Paranoid BushCo and the EPA

Bush Drinks WaterAnd, if you’re wondering what turns the Bush administration squeamish, there’s this clue:

While [Benjamin H. Grumbles, assistant administrator for water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] said the EPA had analyzed 287 pharmaceuticals for possible inclusion on a draft list of candidates for regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act, he said only one, nitroglycerin, was on the list. Nitroglycerin can be used as a drug for heart problems, but the key reason it’s being considered is its widespread use in making explosives.

That’s right! The EPA doesn’t care about the other 286 body and mind tainting drugs Americans are drinking. But they want to screen for nitroglycerin, otherwise, those dadburn terrorists might just bomb us with our own drinking water! Shazam!

And humans aren’t the only creatures drinking the drug-laden wastewater.

In a landmark, seven-year study of a Canadian lake published last year, researchers deliberately dripped the active ingredient in birth control pills into the water in amounts similar to those found to have contaminated aquatic life, plants and water in nature. The result:

After just seven weeks, male fathead minnows began producing yolk proteins, their gonads shrank, and their behavior was feminized — they fought less, floating passively. They also stopped reproducing, resulting in “ultimately, a near extinction of this species from the lake,” said the scientists.

The “glass is half full” takeaway is this: if Bush, Cheney, and the rest of the chickenhawk neocons continue to pollute their own drinking water, they too may experience shrinking gonads, fight less, and stop reproducing.

Amen to that.

[tags]pharmaceuticals, drugs in drinking water, EPA, environment, wastewater[/tags]

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7 Responses to Pharmaceuticals In Our Drinking Water

  1. pelmo says:

    That’s where we seem to be headed right now, right down the toilet bowl.

    If you have a chance, watch Rome;Power and Glory on the military chanel.
    Funny how much in parallel we are with them as they fell.

  2. JoeC says:

    Pelmo: thanks for the Rome: Power and Glory tip. From what I’ve heard, Rome extended its empire a little too far and too thin and at the same time it rotted from the inside, and History does seem to be repeating.

    Jodi: Cheers back at ya!

  3. Xman says:

    Got a colonoscopy short time ago. Whatever drug they gave me (morphine?), WOW! Good thing I didn’t know about it in my experimenting days. Now, if I could accidentally get some of it out of my tap……

  4. Detoxer says:

    This is a serious problem and is another consequence of our prescription drug epidemic. Somehow we have become convinced that we no longer have to confront our problems but simply take a pill to not handle the problem but hide the symptoms.

    As the director of Novus Medical Detox, I daily see the ravages caused by prescription drug addiction created by doctors prescribing it to their patients and then the patients either continuing to obtain it or purchasing these drugs on the internet or the street. Probably the worst of these drugs is OxyContin–legal heroin.

    Pain is real. I have had to deal with it much of my life first from polio and then from two surgeries. However, there are alternatives to painkillers and they must be tried first. Let’s not treat the symptoms but the cause.

    Prescription drug addiction is an epidemic and we must do everything we can to stop it before it overwhelms us. Education is a must. Detox and rehab are the only solutions for people who are addicted and have decided that they must change their lives.

    We also have to properly dispose of the drugs that we clean out of our medicine cabinets.

    Steve Hayes

  5. Birth-control pills can curb the reproduction of more than just the women taking them. Scientists have found that synthetic estrogen — a common ingredient in oral contraceptives — can drastically reduce the fertility of male rainbow trout.

    The man-made compounds are showing up in waterways around the nation — pumped into rivers, lakes awith water from sewage-treatment plants. And they’re being found at levels that can harm fish, possibly even struggling salmon populations.

  6. Pingback: MPV

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