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Drink Up!

I've always said if you knew the things i knew about where your water comes from and what criteria needs to be met to be considered "potable," you prolly would stop drinking. You might reconsider any activity that included water, actually.

Well, now there's something new that i didn't know about.

Pharmaceuticals including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilisers and sex hormones have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41m Americans, according to an investigation by the Associated Press.

The concentrations of these pharmaceuticals are tiny, measured in quantities of parts per billion or trillion, far below the levels of a medical dose, and water utilities insist their water is safe.

But the presence of so many prescription drugs -- and over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen -- in so much of the nation's drinking water is heightening worries among scientists of long-term consequences to human health.

In the course of a five-month inquiry, the AP discovered that drugs have been detected in the drinking water supplies of 24 major metropolitan areas -- from southern California to northern New Jersey, from Detroit, Michigan, to Louisville, Kentucky.

The pharmaceuticals enter the water because the bodies of people who take pills absorb some of the medication, but the rest of it passes through and is flushed down the toilet.

The wastewater from your toilet, sink, shower, street gutters, etc ends up at a wastewater treatment plant where it's "cleaned". It then gets dumped out into some body of water and somewhere downstream of that, a water treatment plant pumps it in, "cleans" it some more and pipes it to your homes. As the article says, the processes used to treat this water does not remove the drug residue. And why should they? They weren't designed for that.

It does say that the utilities are insisting the water is safe to drink, but let me put that in perspective for you. These are the same people who took over 3 months to tell us they exceeded their E. Coli levels. Not to mention the fact that there are no standards set for pharmaceuticals. So, really, as far as they're concerned, they haven't exceeded "acceptable risk" levels yet in their effluent. They most likely weren't even testing for it. Every test costs money and the fewer you can do, the better.

And if they had been, knowing there's no limit set for it, it's likely they just let it go. I say this having worked for a consulting company that knew an area was contaminated by their client's product but had no plans to do anything about it because the government only expressed concern about another location - that location being uphill from a residential area. So, basically, don't ask, don't tell is the usual policy. Is this absolutely the case here? I don't know. I'm just saying it wouldn't surprise me. And it's only come out now because the AP had journalists who discovered it.

So, who's thirsty now? I bet you Brita people with your carbon filters feel pretty silly now, eh? It only really removed volatile organics anyway. You prolly could have achieved the same by shaking your water vigorously.

By min | March 18, 2008, 11:29 AM | Science


i want to be upset, but i'm finding that my mood is surprisingly stable.

i'm sorry for the very obvious joke.

Oh... so that's why I'm no longer sickly, convulsive, irritable and impotent.

Regretfully, the resolution is regularly an estimation that is so smooth it would only necessitate a precise instance of time to put into position, but is often left out.