Drugs in the Water
Should We Be Concerned About Drugs in the Water Supply?
We think so, yes.
On the topic of drugs in the water, an AP study has reported that a vast array of pharmaceuticals, including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones, have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans.
It appears that the 41 million number is a result of the partial survey they did. Many areas were not tested. So we can be sure that there are drugs in the water in many other ares too. There are also small amounts of over-the-counter medicines including acetaminophen and ibuprofen Some wonder how concerned we should be.
Friendsofwater.com hears from many customers who are quite concerned. We share that view.
In the United States, the problem isn't confined to surface waters. Drugs also permeate deep underground aquifers which provide 40 percent of the country's water supply. Human drugs are the not the only source, they also come from cattle and pet drugs.
At this point science tells us that we don't yet know the impact of ingestion of low levels of drugs. And the concentrations are tiny (at least so far). One concern is that the AP study has shown that water providers rarely disclose results of pharmaceutical screenings. Of those areas tested, fewer than half of the large metropolitan, and almost no smaller providers, even test the water for drugs. A California provider suggested that the impacts aren't known yet, and the information might unduly cause alarm. Well, we think it might just cause appropriate alarm! The view that Americans can't handle information is offensive, and we've heard it too many times before. (Thanks to AP for doing this study.)
HOW MUCH RISK IS THERE?
The EPA has said they "recognize it is a growing concern [about drugs in the water] and we're taking it very seriously." Reecent studies which have found alarming effects on human cells and wildlife.
Drugs in water ways are damaging wildlife across the nation and around the globe, research shows. Notably, male fish are being feminized, creating egg yolk proteins, a process usually restricted to females. Pharmaceuticals also are affecting what are called sentinel species at the foundation of the pyramid of life - such as earth worms in the wild and zooplankton in the laboratory, studies show.
Some scientists stress that the research is extremely limited, and there are too many unknowns. They also express however, that the documented health problems in wildlife are disconcerting.
Recent laboratory research has found that small amounts of medication have affected human embryonic kidney cells, human blood cells and human breast cancer cells. The cancer cells proliferated too quickly; the kidney cells grew too slowly; and the blood cells showed biological activity associated with inflammation.
There's growing concern in the scientific community, meanwhile, that certain drugs - or combinations of drugs - may harm humans over decades because water, unlike most specific foods, is consumed in sizable amounts every day. And, unlike many other contaminants found in water, drugs are designed to have an impact on biological functions!
Our bodies may shrug off a relatively big one-time dose, yet suffer from a smaller amount taken in continuously over a many years. Impacts might stimulate allergies or cause nerve damage. Pregnant women, the elderly and the very ill might be more at risk than most (as usual).
"These are chemicals that are designed to have very specific effects at very low concentrations. That's what pharmaceuticals do. So when they get out to the environment, it should not be a shock to people that they have effects," says zoologist John Sumpter at Brunel University in London, who has studied trace hormones, heart medicine and other drugs.
While drugs are tested to be safe for humans, the timeframe is usually over a matter of months, not a lifetime. Drugs also can produce side effects and interact with other drugs at normal medical doses. There are no controls over which drugs are taken in this way, so negative interactions are certainly possible. That's why, except for fluoride, pharmaceuticals are prescribed to people who need them, not delivered to everyone in their drinking water.
WAITING FOR SCIENCE TO DECIDE?
We like to use the information available to us and reach our own conclusions. We remember that the medical industry in not-so-distant decades told us that tobacco was good for us, that lead and asbestos were not dangerous, and that human activity was not impacting the climate. Many still argue that fluoride has no risk in our water supply, despite that fact that we now intake fluoride at 4 times the level we did when they started adding fluoride to the water supply. We now ingest it from other sources too, including our food and drinks. We are baffled as to why so many put common sense behind what science has proven. We're not anti-science, we love it. But it shouldn't replace our ability to think for ourselves.
Our preference is not to wait for science to declare when something is dangerous, but to use our own common sense. This leads us to the following conclusion:
Taking drugs intended for others is a bad idea!
Don't let your body be an unintended science experiment.
WILL FILTERS REMOVE PHARMACEUTICALS?
Most filters have not yet been tested to determine if and to what extent drugs will be removed. We also know that people don't like to hear it, but test results can be misleading. Tests are naturally enough done with new filters and new filter media. The tests normally often don't indicate how long that level of filtration will last when the filters are put to work.
The filters sold by friendsofwater.com are designed to remove contaminants, and do so very effectively. This includes not only those contaminants that were identified at some past time, but the new ones showing up in our water. In our standard single-canister kitchen filter, whether countertop or undercounter, there is kdf which removes (among other things) chemical contaminants, and granulated carbon which removes organic contaminants. The drugs found in our water are either one or the other. Some specific additives to the water require additional filtering; that's why we add an extra canister for fluoride or for chloramines or nitrates.
The Water Filters we sell at friendsofwater.com was chosen because we believe it is the best filtration available. In a 2-canister FLUORIDE PLUS kitchen system for example, there is a full 1 1/2 pounds of activated alumina, which is the most we have seen in any brand of filters. In the second canister there is sufficient kdf to remove those contaminants kdf is best for, and there is a full pound of top-quality pre-washed granulated carbon. These amounts are balanced so that you will have effective filtering for a full year.
SINCE WE WROTE THIS ARTICLE - we have added filter configurations to the line of water filters we sell with increased capacity to filter both chemical and organic drugs.
To see a page on our main site with additional information about filtering pharmaceuticals (and illegal drugs) click on Pharmaceutical Water.
Water filtration is maximized by the time the water is in contact with the filter material. Therefore, more quality filter material means better filtration and longer-lasting filter cartridges. If you are still drinking chlorine and fluoride and now pharmaceuticals, please get yourself a good kitchen water filter.
To your natural health!
On the topic of drugs in the water, a reader sent in this response:
My beloved mother passed away in 2004 after a bout with cancer. During her sickness, she was taking various high-priced prescription drugs, including potent pain killers.
After she passed away, one of the Gov't employees flushed all of the unused medicines down the toilet. I was told that this was standard operating practice to prevent misuse of these medicines. I have since learned that this is indeed standard practice because there is no procedure in place to redistribue or return these drugs to their origin.
So it is very easy for me to see how drugs are ending up in our water supply.
friendsofwater.com adds that if putting drugs into the water supply isn't misuse of drugs,what it!?