Pharmaceutical Drugs Are Poisoning Our Drinking Water
Pharmaceutical medicines are increasingly clogging our waterways and drinking water with chemicals. This is in addition to fertilizer chemicals seeping into our waterways.
In 2015, researchers from Japan’s National Institute of Public Health tested six water purification plants and two industrial water purification plants in Japan. They found 37 different pharmaceuticals and metabolites within the source water of the these plants. Some, such as iopamidol had levels of more than 1,000 nanograms per liter at many of the plants. The plants’ purification did remove many of the pharma chemicals. But they did still find a number of the chemicals remained after treatment. These included:
Amantadine, carbamazepine, diclofenac, epinastine, fenofibrate, ibuprofen, iopamidol, and oseltamivir acid.
Other studies confirm drugs in drinking water
A number of other studies has confirmed that pharmaceuticals are lurking in our drinking waters, unable to be screened by most municipal plants.
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.
In 2011, researchers from The Netherlands also found various pharmaceuticals in drinking waters. This included paracetamol, metoprolol, propranolol, cetirizine, doxycycline, tetracycline, ciprofloxacin, trimethoprim, carbamazepine, ibuprofen and diclofenac. They also found synthetic estrogens in the water. Purification partially removed some of these, but not all.
Drs. 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.
EPA finds pharma metabolites
More than two decades ago, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency scientists first found waste waters in municipal areas were full of pharmaceuticals. This also included 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.
Houtman CJ, Kroesbergen J, Lekkerkerker-Teunissen K, van der Hoek JP. Human health risk assessment of the mixture of pharmaceuticals in Dutch drinking water and its sources based on frequent monitoring data. Sci Total Environ. 2014 Oct 15;496:54-62. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.07.022.
de Graaff MS, Vieno NM, Kujawa-Roeleveld K, Zeeman G, Temmink H, Buisman CJ. Fate of hormones and pharmaceuticals during combined anaerobic treatment and nitrogen removal by partial nitritation-anammox in vacuum collected black water. Water Res. 2011 Jan;45(1):375-83. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2010.08.023.
Vieno NM, Härkki H, Tuhkanen T, Kronberg L. Occurrence of pharmaceuticals in river water and their elimination in a pilot-scale drinking water treatment plant. Environ Sci Technol. 2007 Jul 15;41(14):5077-84.
Adams C. Pure Water: The Science of Water, Waves, Water Pollution, Water Treatment, Water Therapy and Water Ecology. Logical Books, 2014.