Pharmaceuticals Found in Washington D.C.’s Tap Water
The first thing that needs to be said about this is: please don’t use more bottled water as a result of this finding! There are plenty of other issues with bottled water like higher bacterial content, leeching chemicals from plastics, and the fact that bottled water is an environmental nightmare, using 1.5 million barrels of oil annually for the plastic from the U.S. alone.
Back to the matter at hand: according to the Washington post, trace amounts of a variety of pharmaceutical drugs has been found in the drinking water supply of more than 1 million people in and around D.C..
“In addition to caffeine, the drugs found in water treated by the Washington Aqueduct include the well-known pain medications ibuprofen and naproxen, commonly found in Aleve. But there were also some lesser-known drugs: carbamazepine, an anti-convulsive to reduce epileptic seizures and a mood stabilizer for treating bipolar disorders; sulfamethoxazole, an antibiotic that can be used for humans and animals in treating urinary tract and other infections; and monensin, an antibiotic typically given to cattle. In addition, the study uncovered traces of triclocarban, a disinfectant used in antibacterial soaps.”
Nobody knows what this means to human health yet, with such small amounts it is unlikely to cause any immediate harm, however the additive effects are uncalculable at this point. We are continuing to find more and more potentially harmful chemicals that we are exposing ourselves to at low levels, some of which have similar hormone-disrupting properties, some that have been shown to be carcinogenic or effect thyroid function, and a multitude of others that have unknown human health implications and for which there is no know safety cutoff.
We as a society have to stop allowing ourselves to be preyed upon by the corporate sales machine – the majority of the chemicals and pharmaceuticals in our environment that can potentially effect our health are simply not necessary. I have addressed the antibacterial soap and germiphobe movement in the past, and if you read “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan, the horrors of feedlot-grown, grain-fed beef are described, with the cows having chronic liver infections and abscesses from the food requiring antibiotics to survive until slaughter. These practices continue to pressure evolution in bacteria and is generating the “superbugs” that are harder and harder to treat. These are not acceptable or sustainable practices, we are seeing more and more contamination of our food, our water, and our homes with chemicals and toxins now an ubiquitous part of our environment and it will soon catch up with us if we continue to allow it to happen.