According to a five month long investigation by the Associated Press, the drinking water of as many as 41 million Americans contains trace amounts of pharmaceuticals, varying from sex hormones to mood stabilizers. While the amount of drugs is exceedingly small, the notion that society is ingesting unknown combinations of various compounds, even at such small dosages, is undoubtedly raising questions of potential health risks.
To be sure, the concentrations of these pharmaceuticals are tiny, measured in quantities of parts per billion or trillion, far below the levels of a medical dose. Also, utilities insist their water is safe.
But the presence of so many prescription drugs â€” and over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen â€” in so much of our drinking water is heightening worries among scientists of long-term consequences to human health.
Now you might be asking yourself, whose dosing up all our drinking water? Perhaps it’s a government initiative towards population control or maybe the latest in radical bio-terrorism? In actuality, it’s nothing quite that sinister. The drugs enter our water supply as a result of the assorted medications we take daily.
People take pills. Their bodies absorb some of the medication, but the rest of it passes through and is flushed down the toilet. The wastewater is treated before it is discharged into reservoirs, rivers or lakes. Then, some of the water is cleansed again at drinking water treatment plants and piped to consumers. But most treatments do not remove all drug residue.
As I sit here sipping the glass of ice cold H2O, I’m not exactly comforted by the fact that I could be sucking down some Viagra mingled with Ortho Tricyclen. Even if it’s only in trace amounts, that combination can’t be healthy. Still I guess we’re safe for the moment until research says otherwise. It does however make me wonder, if medications can seep into the water supply, why not more illicit drugs as well? Doc I swear I’m not on drugs, I just like to stay hydrated.