in Drinking Water
Drugs in My Drinking Water?
An 2008 Associated
Press five-month investigation, found pharmaceuticals in drinking water provided to at least 41 million
people living in 24 major metropolitan areas in the United States. This report confirms
the 2002 report by the U.S. Geological Survey that was the first nationwide study of
pharmaceutical pollution in the nation's rivers and streams. Of the 95 chemicals
the USGS measured, one or more were found in 80 percent of the streams sampled and
about one-third of the streams contained 10 or
more of the
discovered included sex hormones, anti-epileptics, cardiac medications,
medications, drugs used to treat depression and mental illness, painkillers, mood altering drugs,
tranquilizers, antibiotics, and caffeine.
of the reported pharmaceuticals in drinking water supplies are
unregulated in treated
tap water. Although the concentrations found by the AP research were miniscule, measured in parts per
billion or sometimes in parts per trillion, any level is currently legal and The US Environmental
Protection Agency does not regulate the type or concentration of any pharmaceuticals
in drinking water in the United States.
At current levels,
these drug residues are unlikely to pose an immediate risk to human health, but the long-term consequences
of individual chemicals, and combinations of chemicals, are unknown, especially as
do these Pharmaceuticals in Drinking Water get there?
medications. Their bodies absorb some of the medication, but because up to 90% of oral drugs are not
absorbes the rest of it passes through and is flushed down the toilet.
"People think that
if they take a medication, their body absorbs it and it disappears, but
course that's not the case," said EPA scientist Christian Daughton, one
of the first to draw
attention to the issue of pharmaceuticals in water in the United
Of course, the
dumping of old prescriptions into the sink or toilet is certainly
another source. Many of these drugs do not biodegrade and may persist in the
groundwater for years.
What can we do to remove the Pharmaceuticals in Drinking Water?
wastewater treatment methods used in the United States just aren’t
designed to remove most of the drugs, and much of the contaminated
water is from nonpoint sources and is never treated.
technologies that can remove many of these chemicals are not common in
the U.S drinking water treatment plants. The most effective
treatment methods include advanced oxidation, membrane and
nano-filtration, while the least effective method is chlorination,
which is the most populat treatment in the U.S.
the best strategy for reducing contamination by pharmaceuticals in
drinking water. Individuals can minimize overuse and misuse of
drugs and return unused medications to pharmacies, rather than dump
them down a drain.
Fortunately there are technologies that will
allow you to remove the unwanted drugs from your families drinking
water. These technologies have been around for a long time and offer a
very cost effective as well as an efficient means to purifying your
families drinking water at home.
- RO for short – is a technology where water is pressurized against a
membrane. The membrane allows only pure water can pass through. The
contaminants are blocked and are flushed to the drain.
studies have shown that RO units are capable of removing many of the
commonly encountered pharmaceuticals in drinking water. The fact that
most RO systems also incorporate carbon filtration positions it
as a solid choice in removing drugs and pharmaceuticals from tap water.
Reverse Osmosis systems for homes range in price from $250 to $1000.
(2)Carbon cartridge filtration
is a very popular way to filter water. It's relatively inexpensive and
cartridges can be replaced with little time and effort. Activated
carbon is one of the highest surface area, and most absorbent materials
known. It will absorb a massive list of contaminants.
to the fact that this problem is so new, there has not yet been
sufficient testing of using carbon for removing these
contaminants. But most experts expect that it will be shown that
activated carbon will emerge as the best available technology for the
removal of these contaminants.
are the oldest and most proven technology for removing contaminants
from drinking water. Distillation is the process where water is
vaporized and then condensed to create very pure, pollutant-free water.
The result is very high quality drinking water that is free from all
contaminants. Water distillers systems sell for about $400-$500.