Friday, April 18, 2008

Free Prescription Drugs?

Recent studies have found disturbing cocktails of pharmaceutical drugs in municipal drinking water supplies around the country. The drugs make their way into the water supplies after being imbibed, injected, or ingested by people, and then being washed down into the sewage system. No one is quite sure what the health risks are of these trace levels of drugs in drinking water. Filters at home -- and even bottled water -- will not prevent exposure to the drugs in drinking water:
So how are all these drugs getting in the water in the first place? Some fraction of every dose a person takes passes through unmetabolized and is evacuated by the body and flushed into sewage systems. Sewage treatment plants are meant to remove the more familiar kinds of pollutants, and typically do not remove pharmaceuticals from waste water as it is cleaned up and released back into the environment, eventually to find its way into other water supply systems. In some places, treated sewage water is reused directly for drinking water after several filtration processes to make it safe, although none of the systems in wide use effectively remove pharmaceuticals.

That Brita filter in your kitchen is not likely to do the trick, either. As for bottled water, it, too, may come from a tap, rather than some remote mountain spring. And the trade group representing bottled-water sellers told The A.P. that they aren’t testing for the presence of trace drugs anyway.

Don't worry, though. The experts say everything is fine.