At least 46 million Americans drinking water tainted with trace amounts of pharmaceuticals
According to tests prompted by Associated Press the number of people drinking water that’s been contaminated with trace amounts of drugs increased by 41 million people from AP’s last story on the situation this past March. The news service has been reporting there’s a potentially dangerous presence of pharmaceuticals in the nation’s reservoirs.
The AP stories on the tainted drinking water prompted both federal and local legislative hearings, which yielded by partisan calls for mandatory testing and disclosure. The substantial interest the AP stories generated also led officials in at least 27 additional metropolitan areas to analyze their drinking water. More than half, 17 cases of water proving positive for contamination from pharmaceuticals well known points of origin like Reno, Nev., Savannah, Ga., Colorado Springs, Colo., and Huntsville, Ala. Results are for still pending for three of the metropolitan location.
The increase in the number of known to be exposed to drug-contaminated drinking water supplies has grown dramatically simply because testing has finally to increase. Experts widely believe the actual number of Americans drinking tainted water to be much higher than 46 million.
Concern has grown so great communities and water utilities have bowed to pressure on this issue and are revealing and contributing data from previously unreleased test results.
There remain the vast majority of U.S. cities that have not tested their drinking water. Of the larger cities there were eight — including Boston, Phoenix and Seattle that get to brag their water remains untainted.
Andy Ryan, spokesman for Seattle Public Utilities was quoted by AP as saying…”We didn’t think we’d find anything because our water comes from a pristine source, but after the AP stories we wanted to make sure and reassure our customers.”
The substances detected in the latest tests reported showed the same kind of water contamination of those reported in the earlier AP report.
The pharmaceuticals found in Chicago drinking water included a cholesterol medication and a nicotine derivative. Anti-convulsant carbamazepine was found in the drinking water of several cities. One of those communities, Colorado Springs, officials reported the detection of five pharmaceuticals in all, including a tranquilizer and a hormone.
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Steve Berry a spokesman of Colorado Springs was interviewed by AP and was quoted as saying “This is obviously an emerging issue and after the AP stories came out we felt it was the responsible thing for us to do, as a utility, to find out where we stand. We believe that at these levels, based on current science, that the water is completely safe for our customers,” He went on to say… “We don’t want to create unnecessary alarm, but at the same time we have a responsibility as a municipal utility to communicate with our customers and let them know.”
AP received a confirmation by Bruce Grubb Fargo’s water was discovered to have concentrations of three drugs detected there were so incredibly small — parts per trillion — but he still decided to send the test results to the local health officer in attempt to figure out how to interpret the report for the community.
Grubb told AP “We plan to put this into some kind of context other than just scientific nomenclature, so folks can get some level of understanding about what it means,”.
Tainted water is most often caused by human excretion being flushed into sewers and waterways. There have been numerous reports of pharmaceuticals slipping through sewage and drinking water treatment plants.
The danger is still unclear, researchers are however finding evidence water diluted to extremely small concentrations of pharmaceutical residues do harm fish, frogs and other aquatic species in the wild and impair human cells in the laboratory.