How Do Pharmaceutical Drugs Get in Drinking Water?

First of all, it’s a fact: many prescription drugs, plus over-the-counter drugs, have been found in public water supplies serving millions, virtually all over the United States and Europe.

The New York Times and the Associated Press have both reported on these findings in recent months, with widely printed, broadcast and webcast stories carrying headlines like, “Probe finds drugs in drinking water.”

Part of the problem is hospitals, pharmacies, clinics and doctor’s offices washing out-of-date or unwanted drugs down drains. Leaky septic tanks are another suggested source. Some 40 percent of antibiotics manufactured in America are fed to livestock as a growth stimulant, and manure from these animals is another likely source of drugs in drinking water. A small part may come from manufacturing plants, but these are the only potential sources that are carefully monitored.

Finally, you and I are a major cause of the problem.

Pharmaceutical drugs get in drinking water when people on medication go to the toilet: they excrete drugs not fully absorbed by the body, plus metabolized byproducts. Also, many people dispose of unwanted drugs by flushing them down the toilet.

Water companies treat the waste before discharging it into rivers, lakes and reservoirs, and then treat it again before it enters our drinking water supplies. But our water treatment plants were never designed to remove drugs from our drinking water; they are designed to get rid of disease germs, odors, and long-known hazards like lead and PCBs. Not surprisingly, these water treatments don’t remove all traces of drugs.

Amount of drugs is small, but is it safe?

The amount of pharmaceutical drugs in drinking water is nearly always very small, usually measured in parts per billion. But many different drugs have been found in public water supplies, in endless combinations. And we drink the water year after year. No one really knows whether it’s safe to do so.

“We recognize it is a growing concern and we’re taking it very seriously.”
said Benjamin H. Grumbles, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assistant administrator for water.

What are these drugs?

Here are a few:

Anti-epileptic drugs and tranquilizers found in Southern California; a sex hormone in San Francisco; antibiotics and other medications in Tucson, Arizona; pharmaceutical drugs for pain, infection, cholesterol control, asthma and heart conditions in Philadelphia; carbamazepine, a mood stabilizer, and a metabolized byproduct of angina medication in Northern New Jersey.

It’s not just public water systems that suffer from drugs in drinking water. Pharmaceutical drugs have been found in private wells, too. Bottled water is also affected. Bottlers do not test or treat for pharmaceuticals, and 40 percent of bottled water is just repackage tap water.

The good news: You can take practical, cost-effective action

Here are some reasonable things you can do:

1. Avoid bottled water. At a cost ranging from just under a dollar up to $10 a gallon, it’s the world’s most expensive answer to pharmaceutical drugs found in drinking water. More than 80 percent of the bottles end up in landfills; chemicals leach from the plastic bottle into the water and may affect our health; and the petroleum used would fuel about 100,000 cars each year. Even then, it’s not a solution: nearly half is just bottled tap water, as noted above.

2. Don’t flush unneeded drugs down the toilet. If possible, treat them as you would unused paint or household chemicals and turn them into a local center to be disposed of, often by incineration. At worst, wrap them up and put them in the garbage.

3. Don’t use deodorants or other personal care items containing the antibiotic triclosan.

4. Consider organic meats, raised without a diet of antibiotics.

5. Consider a quality home water filter, then bottle your own water if you wish. Use a glass container or one of a few water bottles on the market that aren’t plastic.

How Do Pharmaceutical Drugs Get in Our Drinking Water?

If you have been following the unfolding case of drinking water contaminants, you may have heard about the E.P.A.’s findings that suggest that pharmaceutical drugs have been found in a number of major water sources across America. But how do pharmaceutical drugs get in drinking water? The question must be approached from a number of different angles, beginning with an understanding of the function of municipal water filtration, how such purifying plants operate, what they can, and can’t do, and ultimately, the ramifications for someone who may be in contact with these drugs.

Nowadays the data is rock solid for the threat of pharmaceutical drugs. Unfortunately, getting the technological changes in place that will secure citywide security is a difficult matter. One day a probe finds drugs in drinking water, and the next a city’s officials are swearing up and down that no such threat exists. Raw data is being exposed that show that pharmaceutical drugs have a lasting presence in our water supplies, but the necessary steps are simply not being taken.

In regard to the question of how do pharmaceutical drugs get in drinking water, the answer, simply, is through us. A large percentage of the drugs we take, from antibiotics to antidepressants, birth control and hormone treatments, pass through us into circulation in our water system.

This would be a non-issue if our current city water purification processes had the ability to effectively deal with these contaminants. Unfortunately, this is not the case. So, how do pharmaceutical drugs get in drinking water after moving into a purification system? In this case, it is a matter of molecular density, and temperature resistance. While most contaminants can be controlled through either a sterilization process or a fine filtration system, these pharmaceutical residuals are both hardy enough to survive the harsh treatment, and smaller than the water molecules that are being strained for impurities.

One bit of good news in this case is the fact that at-site water filtration provides an effective solution to this issue. The best systems utilize a multi-stage carbon-based filtration system that does not permit any pharmaceutical drugs through. Ultimately, it is not just a matter of how do pharmaceutical drugs get in drinking water, but a case of how best to prevent them from affecting you, or your family.

Rather than wait until a probe finds drugs in drinking water in your area, making a move away from any potential threats will help secure you and your family in the long run.

How Do Pharmaceutical Drugs Get in Drinking Water and What to Do About Them

How do pharmaceutical drugs get in drinking water?

Have you read about this recently? “Probe finds drugs in drinking water” – this was in the news a few days back.

A number of pharmaceutical drugs can be found in our drinking water. These drugs are very strong chemicals and can cause severe harm to our health. But how do they get in the water in the first place?

To know the answer to the question “how do pharmaceutical drugs get in drinking water?”, we have to take a look at the lifecycle of the drug.

The first stage is the manufacturing process of the drugs. All the chemical wastes of the drug manufacturing units ultimately are disposed of in our water sources like rivers and lakes.

This is the first point where prescription drugs like pain killers, hormone enhancers, and anti depressants get added into our water sources.

Later when this water is used by our water companies for supplying to our homes, they do try to purify it by adding chlorine in it. Now chlorine may be effective at killing the microbes in the water, but it cannot remove any chemicals present in the water like the pharmaceutical drugs.

Another smaller yet significant source of these drugs in the water is – the traces of drugs that our bodies secrete. Any medicines that we take, our body is not able to absorb it 100%. Small traces of the medicine are still left unused and are released from the body by excretion.

These drugs then get added into the sewage and are still present in the water even after it has been cleaned and recycled for re-use.

So what’s the risk from them?

These drugs are very strong chemicals, designed for use by people having specific health problems. Any other person taking these drugs can face serious health problems like improper functioning of the organs and potentially life threatening complications.

What to do about these drugs?

The best way to get rid of these drugs from your drinking water is to first purify it by a good water filter.

Look for one that can remove all kinds of contaminants from the water – the pharmaceutical drugs, organic impurities, microbes and even heavy metals. A filter with the combined techniques of ion exchange, carbon filtration and sub micron filtration can do this effectively and that too without removing the natural minerals in the water.

Now that you know how do pharmaceutical drugs get in drinking water, take steps now to protect your health from these dangerous chemicals.