Despite extensive purification treatments used by water companies, traces of bleomycin, a cancer chemotherapy drug, and diazepam, a sedative, have been found in the drinking water.
Though experts say the drug levels are too low to pose a direct health risk, concerns have been raised about exposing pregnant women to the drugs, which could harm an unborn child.
A separate study by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Wallingford, Oxfordshire also revealed that chemotherapy drugs are being washed into Britain’s rivers. The report estimated that an adult who drinks more than three pints of water a day would receive doses of the drugs between 300 and 30,000 times lower than recommended safety levels each week.
Still, some experts are worried.
"There is not evidence to show that drinking water treatment removes all these drugs, so while we are not wanting to alarm people, it would be foolish to assume there is no risk,” said scientist Andrew Johnson, who led the Wallingford study. This is one unintended consequence of the drug-addicted health care paradigm plaguing the United States, and other countries as well. Dubbed “pharmaceutical pollution,” increasing numbers of drugs, and personal care products, are finding their way into drinking water supplies.
As if there weren’t already enough environmental toxins.
Drugs get deposited into your drinking water via two routes. One, through excretion. Drugs that you take, or that are given to livestock, do not necessarily become inert in your body. Some of the active components are not absorbed, and so they are deposited into sewage treatment centers that are not always looking for, or removing, prescription drugs. Drug-ridden waste from livestock also ends up polluting ground water, where it makes its way into soil, waterways and eventually our drinking water.
The second route has to do with unused prescription drugs that are flushed down the toilet or deposited into landfills by individuals, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies, where they ultimately end up back in the environment.
Some of the potential concerns include:
- Some people are now exposed to traces of multiple drugs at one time, in addition to other harmful metals and chemicals in their water
- Many drugs in the water supply are known to have dangerous side effects when taken in normal prescription doses
- Drugs that were only intended for external application will now be ingested and vice versa
- Some individuals are allergic to drugs found in the water supply
- People are exposed to combinations of drugs that should never be combined
- Throw most drugs in the trash after crushing them or dissolving them in water, mixing them with kitty litter, coffee grounds or other unappealing materials, and placing the mixture in a sealed plastic bag.
- Remove and destroy any prescription labels before throwing away the containers.
- In some states, pharmacies can take back medications. When in doubt, you should ask your pharmacist for advice.
The best way to reduce environmental drug pollution is also the simplest and most obvious -- Take Control of Your Health by cutting down the number of drugs you take in the first place. The vast majority of drugs are dangerous and unnecessary band-aids that treat symptoms without ever addressing underlying health problems.
Of course, to curb the pollution problem drug use will also have to be greatly reduced among livestock and other animals in our food supply.
How to Get Clean Drinking Water
Since regular tap water may be polluted with everything from fluoride to pharmaceuticals, I recommend filtering it. I do not suggest using bottled water as an alternative because of the extreme toll it takes on the environment.
Right now, the best way you can provide pure water to your family is by using a reverse osmosis filter, which you can install in your home. Remember that you may also want to filter the water that you use to bathe with, as this can be a significant source of exposure to toxins as well.