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Pharmaceuticals in the Water

History


In March of 2008, the Associated Press published the results of a nationwide survey of the drinking water in major cities across the United States. The survey found trace amounts of a considerable number of pharmaceuticals, on the orders of parts per trillion or billion, in the water of 24 major cities. At least 41 million Americans access this drinking water. This announcement has drawn attention to the fact that current waste treatment facilities are not designed to filter out many artificial Chemicals List excreted by humans. It has also attracted attention to the fact that the Food and Drug Administration does not monitor pharmaceuticals in bottled water (#Pritchard, 2008). As a response to the Associated Press report, according to a Water Quality Association study, over half of Americans now intend to purchase bottled water (#Water Online, 2008).

Health Effects


Though the hazard to humans and wildlife from chronic exposure to such low quantities of Chemicals List is unquantified, above average elevations of certain drugs have already been associated with physiological changes in certain organisms. For example, male minnows exposed to elevated levels of steroids in a Nebraska river were observed to have smaller than average heads. Studies cited by the Associated Press also suggest that earthworms and other sentinel species are being effected as well and that male fish are experiencing feminization. Furthermore, in a laboratory setting, trace amounts of certain pharmaceuticals have been linked to alterations in the behavior of cancer, kidney and blood cells, accelerating proliferation of the prior while slowing kidney cell functions and triggering symptoms related to inflation in the blood cells. Negative effects on zooplankton in laboratory settings have also been observed. Though many members of the pharmaceutical industry downplay potential dangers, not all do, such as the director of Environmental Technology at Merck, who admits that physiological changes from chronic exposure are a possibility. The lack of robust evidence one way or the other comes to the consternation of many scientists, who criticize the EPA's perceived asymmetric interest in testing for drugs rather than determining their effects on health. The EPA has evaluated nearly 290 chemicals for inclusion on a preliminary list of pharmaceuticals that should be regulated, but at the moment, only one of those chemicals, nitroglycerin, is on it (#Donn, et al, 2008).

Current Events



References



Donn, Jeff and Mendoza, Martha and Pritchard, Justin. "AP Probe Finds Drugs in Drinking Water." 9 Mar. 2008. Associated Press. 24 Mar. 2008 <http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hGsoyElv4ZL879LW6z2aZS0Pix7AD8VA14500>.

"Pharmaceuticals In Drinking Water Concern Two Thirds Of Americans." 26 Mar. 2008. Water Online. 26 Mar. 2008. <http://www.wateronline.com/content/news/article.asp?DocID=%7BF7760D23-D26C-4574-BE09-0C9001F3048B%7D&Bucket=Current+Headlines&VNETCOOKIE=NO>.

Pritchard, Justin. "Bottled Water Not Any Better Regarding Drugs." 24 Mar. 2008. Pantagraph.com 24 Mar. 2008. <http://www.pantagraph.com/articles/2008/03/24/news/doc47e82fccadd41912375203.txt>.

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