Wastewater Treatment Plants Are Helpless Against Pharmaceuticals in Our Drinking Water

Many toxins contaminate the water Americans drink from their faucets. Lead has received the most attention.

Especially after the crisis in Flint, Michigan. Residents drank lead-tainted water for a long time before officials documented the contamination.

And lead is only one of many tap water contaminants that can make people ill or worse.

Others include arsenic, fluoride and polio. Plus mercury, copper, iron, uranium, E. coli and plastic particles. A recent article in The Guardian newspaper reported on this subject. It stated that billions of people are drinking water contaminated by plastic particles.

But there is one contaminant in our water supplies that many studies have overlooked. Pharmaceuticals.

Pharmaceuticals Rampant in Our Water

An Associated Press investigation looked into this. And found pharmaceuticals in the drinking water of 24 U.S. metropolitan areas.

Antibiotics, hormones and other drugs pass through the body and the water supply. And here’s the scary part – they remain even after undergoing wastewater treatments.

A 2017 study published by Rio de Janeiro University found something disturbing.

Treated wastewater and untreated wastewater had almost the same levels of pharmaceuticals contamination.

Anti-Anxiety Drugs Also a Problem

There are approximately 85 manmade chemicals including medications that slip through treatment systems. That’s according to a U.S. Geological Survey.

Anti-anxiety drugs are one of the biggest culprits. That’s because they have been so overprescribed through the years.

But there are many other pharmaceuticals that normal treatment methods are not eliminating.

They include beta-blockers that reduce blood pressure and anticonvulsants. Plus birth control pills and endocrine-disrupting medications.

‘This Is Pretty Typical’

We’re seeing pharmaceuticals in drinking water all over the country. But the problem is even worse near pharmaceutical plants.

This is because pharmaceutical makers are sending drug-tainted water to water treatment plants. Environmental Health News reported about this in a new national study.

Included in this study was an anti-fungal drug. It was at levels 3,000 times higher at a treatment plant near a drug maker. That’s compared to treatment plants that don’t accept drug maker discharge.

We’d like to think this is an exception to the rule. But Jose Lozano disagrees. He’s the director of the Ithaca Area Wastewater Treatment Facility’s Environmental Laboratory in New York.

He said, “Unfortunately, this is pretty typical.” He added that these plants were “not designed to treat these types of compounds.”

Drugs in Water Mess with Fish

The study showed that pharmaceutical makers send high loads of their products into the nation’s waterways. All while ignoring potential consequences.

They also discovered antihistamines. Diabetic medication. Muscle relaxants. Insomnia drugs. Anti-seizure medication. And anti-inflammatories.

The lead author of the study wrote this. “Modern wastewater treatment plants mostly reduce solids and reduce bacteria. They were not engineered to deal with complex compounds.”

It can be argued that there have not been enough studies on this. And that we don’t know the full effects of pharmaceuticals in drinking water. That’s exactly my point.
Do you want to drink a bunch of drugs before we know what they might be doing to us?

And we do know that mixes of pharmaceuticals disrupt the endocrine system of fish.
And feminize them. And alter their behavior and reproduction. And change their growth. And increase the size of their livers.

Will the Government Step in?

The one good thing is that we can count on the government to do something about this problem, right? Nope.

About the only response we receive from federal, state and local governments is this. They say the levels of contaminants in our water are not high enough to cause concern.

A recent editorial in the Fayetteville Observer in North Carolina addressed this subject. It said the state is refusing to test drinking water for pharmaceuticals.

The Department of Environmental Quality requested funding for chemical-testing instruments. But the state said ‘no.’

Keeping Citizens in the Dark

This is how part of the powerful editorial read. “The General Assembly has decided that keeping North Carolinians in the dark about their public water supply is in everyone’s best interest.

“Even though the head of a manufacturing group assures lawmakers that testing will indeed show a witch’s brew of chemicals in our water, we won’t test for them.”

So, harmful pharmaceuticals are in our tap water. The problem will continue to worsen as doctors prescribe more pharmaceuticals. And the government won’t do anything about it.

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