The Real Reason Pharmaceutical Drugs Get in Drinking Water?

You’ve read the stories about medical waste like syringes washing up on the shores of public beaches. While this is alarming enough, now a similar threat is turning up in our water supplies. Drugs are being found in water supplies across the country. But how do pharmaceutical drugs get in drinking water?

Initially, individuals take drugs in a pill or other format. While the human body absorbs most of the medication, a good portion of the drug is eliminated as body waste and is flushed into the sewer system. Next, this wastewater is treated before it is released into reservoirs, rivers or lakes. After that, some of the water is treated at drinking water treatment facilities and then routed to public water supplies. But what happens is that only a large amount of the treatment plants do not effectively remove all drug particles.

You might have seen the recent headline: AP probe finds drugs in drinking water? Such media attention literally rocked the government and environmental community. It all started when the Associate Press began a five-month investigation to learn what’s in our drinking water. The agency found that drugs have been detected in the drinking water supplies of 24 major metropolitan areas like New York City, Philadelphia and Detroit; to name a few.

So what are the risks from having these medications in our water? While researchers do not yet understand the exact risks from decades of slow exposure to different combinations of pharmaceuticals, recent studies have found disturbing effects on human cells and animals.

We already asked the question how do pharmaceutical drugs get in drinking water?  So how do we get them out? One technology is called reverse osmosis. It removes virtually all pharmaceutical contaminants. However, it is highly expensive when used on a big scale. Plus, it also leaves several gallons of polluted water for every one that is made clean. And finally, this process strips water of really essential minerals that our body’s need.

Other treatment processes add chorine to water to get rid of the drugs. But that method has its drawbacks too. There’s proof that adding chlorine to water makes some pharmaceuticals more toxic. Some drugs, including widely used cholesterol fighters, tranquilizers and anti-epileptic medications, resist modern drinking water and wastewater treatment processes. Plus, the EPA says there are no sewage treatment systems specifically set up to remove pharmaceuticals.

With the lack of resources available to filter the drugs out of water, how harmful is it? So much is still unknown. Many independent scientists are skeptical that trace concentrations of drugs will prove harmful to humans. Such reasoning has been established because the studies conducted poisoned the lab animals with much higher doses of the drugs.

When a probe finds drugs in drinking water, it causes experts to look deeper into the long-term effects on people. For example, there’s the issue abut how the drugs and the combinations of drugs can harm humans over decades because water, unlike most specific foods, is consumed in large amounts on a daily basis.

This recent topic as of late is “how do pharmaceutical drugs get in drinking water?” but for many decades, federal environmental officials and non-profit watchdog groups were focused on how contaminants in water. Such substances as pesticides, lead, PCBs were the big concerns of the past.

Today, the scientific community is worried about the long-term implications of this problem. The fact of the matter is that our bodies can resist a relatively big dose of medication in one shot. But our systems can suffer from smaller doses ingested continuously over periodic use. This can slowly mess with our allergies or cause nerve damage. What’s more, women who are expecting, senior citizens and those who are weak and very ill might be much more sensitive.

If you walk away with only one thing from reading this, be safer with what your drink. Look into a home water purification device or contact your local water authority to see where you stand in this mess. In fact, some of the experts feel that medications may pose a unique danger because, unlike most pollutants, because they were designed to specifically affect the human body.

The Age-Old Question “How Do Pharmaceutical Drugs Get in Drinking Water” is Really Nothing New

The fact that drugs get in our drinking water is so alarming. It makes things like toxins in water seem like old threats. But today, water supplies across the country have trace element of drugs. This discovery is causing experts and ordinary citizens to ask the question: how do pharmaceutical drugs get in drinking water?

When a probe finds drugs in drinking water, it sets off all kinds of bells and whistles. The first area of concern for most people is how the drugs end up in their drinking water. The next thing people need to realize is that not all of the drugs they take stay in their bodies. When drugs are ingested or injected into our body, we do not necessarily use all of the drugs. These excess drugs get flushed out in urine and feces.

Some say this is a good thing since pharmaceuticals can overpower your system. On the other hand, it’s not welcome news for the ecosystem. These drug elements find their way into our streams, rivers and other water systems, as well as into our municipal water treatment facilities.

As you might know, addressing the quality of tap water is nothing new. But the newest threat of drugs in our waterways is just one more to add to our already tainted water. But simply asking “how do pharmaceutical drugs get in drinking water” is not enough. The more urgent problem lies in the fact that such drugs are not easily filtered out of our drinking water.

When a scientific probe finds drugs in drinking water, it usually reveals what levels and what type of drugs. A study by the Associate Press, for example, found low levels of drugs from over-the-counter medications to highly potent narcotics. Still some say that even in small doses, the pharmaceuticals are toxic to the body. The main reason for this is the fact the people might be ingesting them over a continuous period of time.

No one knows just yet what this long-term exposure will do. The problem of drugs in water is growing rapidly worldwide. In the Unite States alone, traces of drugs are found in most sources of drinking water.

How do pharmaceutical drugs get in drinking water supplies? Review the following to brush up on the different types of water sources and their safety:

Underground aquifers supply around 40 percent of the drinking water in the United States. Sadly, drugs can seep into aquifers even in rural areas.

Well-water is not controlled by public water treatment facilities. People dig wells and have the misguided faith that this is a totally safe way to collect healthy drug-free water.

By and large, bottled water suppliers do not test water for the presence of drugs.

Lastly, don’t be fooled by some water purification devices and companies. Some ineffective home filtration systems do not filter out all the harmful chemicals and drugs in water and can also become contaminated with drug by-products. Click on my bio and find out the home filtration systems that do.

How Do Pharmaceutical Drugs Get in Drinking Water?

First of all, it’s a fact: many prescription drugs, plus over-the-counter drugs, have been found in public water supplies serving millions, virtually all over the United States and Europe.

The New York Times and the Associated Press have both reported on these findings in recent months, with widely printed, broadcast and webcast stories carrying headlines like, “Probe finds drugs in drinking water.”

Part of the problem is hospitals, pharmacies, clinics and doctor’s offices washing out-of-date or unwanted drugs down drains. Leaky septic tanks are another suggested source. Some 40 percent of antibiotics manufactured in America are fed to livestock as a growth stimulant, and manure from these animals is another likely source of drugs in drinking water. A small part may come from manufacturing plants, but these are the only potential sources that are carefully monitored.

Finally, you and I are a major cause of the problem.

Pharmaceutical drugs get in drinking water when people on medication go to the toilet: they excrete drugs not fully absorbed by the body, plus metabolized byproducts. Also, many people dispose of unwanted drugs by flushing them down the toilet.

Water companies treat the waste before discharging it into rivers, lakes and reservoirs, and then treat it again before it enters our drinking water supplies. But our water treatment plants were never designed to remove drugs from our drinking water; they are designed to get rid of disease germs, odors, and long-known hazards like lead and PCBs. Not surprisingly, these water treatments don’t remove all traces of drugs.

Amount of drugs is small, but is it safe?

The amount of pharmaceutical drugs in drinking water is nearly always very small, usually measured in parts per billion. But many different drugs have been found in public water supplies, in endless combinations. And we drink the water year after year. No one really knows whether it’s safe to do so.

“We recognize it is a growing concern and we’re taking it very seriously.”
said Benjamin H. Grumbles, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assistant administrator for water.

What are these drugs?

Here are a few:

Anti-epileptic drugs and tranquilizers found in Southern California; a sex hormone in San Francisco; antibiotics and other medications in Tucson, Arizona; pharmaceutical drugs for pain, infection, cholesterol control, asthma and heart conditions in Philadelphia; carbamazepine, a mood stabilizer, and a metabolized byproduct of angina medication in Northern New Jersey.

It’s not just public water systems that suffer from drugs in drinking water. Pharmaceutical drugs have been found in private wells, too. Bottled water is also affected. Bottlers do not test or treat for pharmaceuticals, and 40 percent of bottled water is just repackage tap water.

The good news: You can take practical, cost-effective action

Here are some reasonable things you can do:

1. Avoid bottled water. At a cost ranging from just under a dollar up to $10 a gallon, it’s the world’s most expensive answer to pharmaceutical drugs found in drinking water. More than 80 percent of the bottles end up in landfills; chemicals leach from the plastic bottle into the water and may affect our health; and the petroleum used would fuel about 100,000 cars each year. Even then, it’s not a solution: nearly half is just bottled tap water, as noted above.

2. Don’t flush unneeded drugs down the toilet. If possible, treat them as you would unused paint or household chemicals and turn them into a local center to be disposed of, often by incineration. At worst, wrap them up and put them in the garbage.

3. Don’t use deodorants or other personal care items containing the antibiotic triclosan.

4. Consider organic meats, raised without a diet of antibiotics.

5. Consider a quality home water filter, then bottle your own water if you wish. Use a glass container or one of a few water bottles on the market that aren’t plastic.