Pharmaceuticals Are Lurking in U.S. Drinking water
Nearly everyone understands that city drinking water comes from filtering and purifying wastewater from the sewer before it's stored in reservoirs. Most assume that all harmful particles have been removed making city water safe to drink. While it is true that bacteria and other harmful organisms have been removed, trace elements of pharmaceuticals often remain in the water. While these particles aren't enough to create a therapeutic dose of the drugs, some worry about the long-term effect traces of drugs have on human health. Check out these facts about pharmaceuticals in drinking water.
How Do Drugs Get into Drinking Water?
Americans take an incredible array of medications every day from over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen to antibiotics and sex hormones. According to the Mayo Clinic, 70 percent of all Americans take at least one prescription drug, with antidepressants, opioids and antibiotics leading the list. While their bodies absorb most of the medication, some of it is passed through the body as waste and is flushed down the toilet. The wastewater is then treated to remove harmful substances and dumped into reservoirs, lakes and rivers. Some of the water goes to treatment plants to make purified drinking water, but even purification plants cannot remove all traces of drugs in the water.
Why Don't They Test the Water for Drugs?
The U.S. Government does not require testing for drugs in drinking water because there is little research on the long-term effects of pharmaceuticals in drinking water, but some areas do test the water. Out of 62 major water suppliers, 28 suppliers test their water for the presence of drugs. The remaining 34 major suppliers of water in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Houston, New York City, Miami and Phoenix — serving 9 million people — do not test the water for drugs.
How Do Trace Drugs Effect People?
No one knows for sure what the long-term effect drugs in drinking water may have on people as there have not been enough studies done to determine this. Some research has revealed that traces of medications in the water can cause human germs to mutate into more dangerous forms. Many scientists are also concerned that chronic, low-level exposure could hamper development and reproduction, as well as change behaviors depending on what type of drugs are ingested. More research is needed in this area to be sure of anything.
How Can the Drugs in Water Be Removed?
Reverse osmosis removes pharmaceuticals from drinking water according to a statement from the AP. It is not practical on a large scale due to the expense and the fact that for every gallon of purified water it produces there are several gallons of wastewater produced. However, it can be a viable option for consumers.
If you have questions or concerns about the quality of your drinking water or need an emergency plumber, call or contact us today to make us your regular Chicago plumber.