Hidden Dangers: Prescription Drugs Contaminated the Drinking Water

August 5th, 2013

In your medicine cabinet? Yes! In your water supply? Frighteningly – Yes!!


Image via Flickr by RambergMediaImages

Hidden Dangers: Prescription Drugs Contaminated the Drinking Water

One of the reasons why I majored in Environmental Studies is because I love the earth’s oceans and lakes. I have always sought recreation and refuge in them, and I am never lacking in surprise or dismay when I see them disrespected and polluted. I cannot understand why anyone would feel it appropriate to pollute our earth’s precious water sources. After all, we as a species cannot survive without water. Pollution goes beyond trashing our natural water resources, however, and one of the most dangerous forms of pollution is drinking water contamination.

I could write a 100-page blog on contaminated drinking water; there are so many contaminants to discuss, as well as innumerable illnesses resulting from drinking contaminated water, so I’m going to narrow this down. In this blog post, I want to discuss the dangers of prescription drugs entering our water supply, which is a form of drinking water contamination that many do not think about. In fact, I dare say, many might not even be aware that their drinking water is contaminated by prescription drug residue.

According to an investigation by the Associate Press, prescription drugs were found in the water supply of numerous cities throughout the U.S. The types of prescription drug residue found in the drinking water included antibiotics, antidepressants, and hormones. This is quite frightening, and might explain why many people suffer from prescription medication-related side effects, such as intolerance to antibiotics and hormonal imbalances, even when they aren’t taking prescription medications. Did you know that the Potomac River is home to fish that are intersexed, and it is believed that these fish are both male and female because of excess estrogen found in river’s water?

How these drugs are entering our water supplies and making our tap water contaminated drinking water is two-fold. Many people flush prescription medication down their toilets once they no longer need the prescription. Other medications stay within the patient’s urine or feces, and are excreted into our water supply upon elimination from the person’s body. Believe or not, following your doctor’s orders and taking your prescriptions is one reason why people are drinking contaminated water.

This form of drinking water contamination is fairly new, and we don’t have all the facts yet. Many government agencies, including the EPA, the CDC, and local municipalities are trying to determine exactly how much prescription medication has contaminated drinking water supplies and the resulting effects of drinking contaminated water heavy in prescription medication run-off, so to speak. At this, time, we just don’t have a full picture, but we do know this, it’s not worth the risk – at least I don’t think so.

I want the water that my dog, Storm, and I play in to be clean, and it’s pretty easy to tell if a beach or lake is polluted. It’s not so easy to tell if your drinking or tap water is contaminated, and buying bottled water isn’t the solution. Many of you might not realize that 25 percent of bottled water actually comes from a tap. This might surprise you, and I hope it enrages you. After all, it is a waste of money to purchase bottled water, not to mention the damage the plastic bottles do to our environment as they pile up in landfills. Nope. It’s probably better to take cleaning your drinking water into your own hands with a reliable water filtering system to ensure your drinking water is purified to your standards.

Aside from that, there are other ways you can help out in preventing prescription medications from entering into our water systems. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency sponsors a National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. The DEA coordinates with your local law enforcement and gives citizens the opportunity to dispose of unwanted prescription medication safely, much like a hazardous waste collection day. You can also speak with your physician about the medications you are currently taking and how they are eliminated from your body. Perhaps there is another medication manufactured for your needs that has less impact on our drinking water supplies. It never hurts to ask to ensure that none of us are drinking contaminated water.


Written By: Lynn Taylor

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