Fact or Myth: Prescription Drugs in Drinking Water

by Peter Patterson

You may already be aware that chemicals, minerals and other substances can exist in your water. However, it may be absurd to imagine prescription drugs in drinking water right out of your faucet. Several pharmaceutical products have actually been detected in different systems which call for immediate safe procedures to keep water safe and consumable. Here’s more.

Introduction to Drugs in Water

Drugs in the drinking water such as antibiotics, mood stabilizers, hormones, etc. have been found to exist in different water supplies in over 24 major metropolitan areas in the United States. According to research and investigation, the drugs enter water supplies through many ways.

First, people flush down unneeded medications in toilets. Second, the medicine may be passed through urine or feces after being consumed and absorbed by individuals. Third, different cleansing processes and treatments result to pharmaceutical remains. Generally, the levels are low measured in parts for every billion or trillion. Although utility companies report that the water is safe, some private laboratories and institutions tend to counter the claims.

Is This New?

Pharmaceuticals have long been present in water supply in low levels for 10 years or more. Since the late 1990s, several drugs have been discovered in sewage water particularly oral contraceptives. These pose a risk in potentially contaminating consumable water in households. Recent technologies and new filtration methods have been developed to improve the quality of water, detect tinier amounts of harmful agents and minimize the presence of prescription drugs in drinking water.

Experts are not yet fully aware of the health effects of the drugs but the hormones can affect individuals even in low concentrations. Children, babies, pregnant women and the elderly are the individuals who will most likely be vulnerable should there be any significant effect. These are people who have less competent detoxification systems thus increasing the risks.

Is There a Solution?

The presence of drugs in the drinking water can be alleviated through new home filtering systems using state-of-the-art techniques to reduce medication levels. Boiling alone is not a worthwhile solution and pharmaceuticals will most likely remain except if the process used is distillation, reverse osmosis and other new purification means. Reverse osmosis however, takes out the needed minerals naturally present in raw water that sustains growth and development. Activated charcoal system is another method known to reduce prescription drugs in drinking water.

Local public utilities should be alerted to test the different pollutants and drugs that can exist in drinking water. Individuals should also avoid flushing down expired and unneeded medications. The best approach is to mix unused drugs with coffee grounds or pet litter then seal the mixture in a sealed container before throwing it in the trash.

What are the Experts Doing?

AP National Investigative Team members studied several scientific reports. They analyzed federal drinking water databases, treatment plants and environmental study sites. They talked to over 230 officials, scientists and academics and observed the top 50 biggest cities, 12 major water providers and smaller water providers in communities in all 50 states.

Research showed that there were 63 pharmaceuticals or by-products in treated drinking water which include medicine for pain, convulsion, infection, asthma, epilepsy, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart problems and mental illness. These were all accessible to over 41 million Americans. Although officials at regional and municipal water providers reported zero presence of such, the tests revealed otherwise. Prescription drugs in drinking water triggered the development and production of more powerful purification systems for safe consumption.

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