…by drinkig more water!
It seems that there are trace amounts of pharmaceuticals in much of our water supply in the US. I heard about this report earlier today on the radio. There’s more on the “Our Bodies Our Blog” site:
The AP has released a report on pharmaceuticals making it into the water supply, and found from a compilation of data that the drugs are detectable in drinking water supplies almost everywhere that tests have been conducted. How do these antibiotics, psychiatric drugs, hormones, and other chemicals end up in the water? Pretty simply, as the report notes:
“People take pills. Their bodies absorb some of the medication, but the rest of it 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. But most treatments do not remove all drug residue.”
Switching to bottled water is not likely to be a great solution to this problem – many bottled waters on the market are ultimately from a public water supply, and the production, shipment, and disposal of these items creates its own environmental concerns. Although some bottlers use reverse osmosis, which the AP says “removes virtually all pharmaceutical contaminants,” this process is “very expensive for large-scale use and leaves several gallons of polluted water for every one that is made drinkable.” An industry spokesperson commented that, “Bottlers do not typically treat or test for pharmaceuticals.” Water that is sourced from springs or underground wells is not immune to the problem, either. The AP notes watershed contamination, and previous studies have detected pharmaceuticals in rivers, streams, and groundwater. Likewise, your home filtration devices are not designed to remove these kinds of chemicals. Ultimately, you’d probably have to avoid all water-based beverages to avoid any low-level pharmaceutical exposure.
Thing is, I remember doing a paper on the French Broad River when I was in college and noting the fact that there were hormones in the river–namely, estrogen from hormone replacement therapy–so it’s not as though this is totally new. And the same question that was being asked by researches then are being asked now, i.e. what is the tipping point… at what level of saturation would the estrogen (or anti-depresant, or muscle relaxant) move up the food chain from the amphibians and fish that it already affects to larger species? Something to think about…but it’s just another thing that makes me want to stick my fingers in my ears and go “la la la la la la la.”