Drugs in Our Drinking Water
Pharmaceutical medicines are increasingly clogging our waterways with chemicals. In 2007, researchers from Finland’s Abo Akademi University (Vieno et al.) released a study showing that pharmaceutical beta-blockers, antiepileptic drugs, lipid regulators, anti-inflammatory drugs and fluoroquinolone drugs were all found in river waters. The concentrations of these were well above drinking water limits. The researchers also found that water treatment only eliminated an average of 13% of the concentration of these pharmaceuticals. This means that 87% of these pharmaceutical medicines remained in the drinking water, ready to dose each and every person drinking that water with prescription medication.
A number of other studies has confirmed that pharmaceuticals are lurking in our drinking waters, unable to be screened by most municipal plants.
Furthermore, Christian Daughton and Thomas Ternes calculated that the quantity of medications entering our environment is close to the quantity of pesticides used in a year. Dr. Ternes found 30 pharmaceuticals in water supplies, including cholesterol drugs, beta-blockers, antibiotics, heart medications and analgesics.
Ten years previous, German researchers found clofibric acid, phenazone and fenofibrate, all medications, within local waters. Other researchers found antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs and chemical hormones in water supplies. The USDA’s Agricultural Research Service had also found clofibric acid in groundwaters near recharging sewer systems.
More than two decades ago, EPA scientists found sewage sludge with nicotine, aspirin and caffeine extracts.
Tulane University scientist Glen Boyd found drugs in the Mississippi River, Lake Ponchetrain and in Tulane’s drinking water. They also found sterone, clofibric acid, and naproxen. Estrone levels went as high as 80 PPT (parts per trillion).
Trent University’s Chris Metcalfe found anti-psychotic drugs, anticancer agents, and anti-inflammatory medications in Canadian drinking water supplies.
These drugs are coming from a variety of sources. They range from toilets, pharmaceutical manufacturers, hospitals, clinics and other medical businesses; as well as farms, where antibiotics and other medicines are given to cattle and other animals. One of the most prominent sources according to many, is simply the urine or excrement of humans who take these drugs. Much of their chemicals will pass through the body intact, to infect our waters.
Written by Case Adams, Naturopath
Adams C. Pure Water: The Science of Water, Waves, Water Pollution, Water Treatment, Water Therapy and Water Ecology. Logical Books, 2010.