Research of drugs’ effect needed

A recent Associated Press investigation found pharmaceuticals in drinking water.

You may be ingesting more than you think when you swallow a gulp of water. Pharmaceuticals, including both prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines, have been found in the drinking water of much of the country.

In Minneapolis, acetaminophen, caffeine and cotinine were most prevalent. In other cities, sex hormones, antibiotics, anti-convulsants and mood stabilizers have been found in the drinking water supplies.

Granted, all of these drugs are in trace amounts and low levels. They get into the water because after people take them, their bodies absorb a portion of them and the rest gets flushed down the toilet.

That wastewater is treated, then mixes in with the watershed – lakes, rivers and reservoirs, which is then treated again and consumed by us.

Some of the medications detected in the water aren’t even able to be removed through current treatment processes; drugs that fight cholesterol, and those that act as tranquilizers and anti-epileptic medications are resistant to modern wastewater and drinking water treatment processes.

No sewage treatment process exists for the purpose of removing pharmaceuticals. And the federal government doesn’t mandate testing for drugs in water.

Not only are these drugs going seemingly unnoticed in the water we drink every day, we also don’t know what the effects have on our bodies and the wildlife.

These drugs, going unknown to us down our throats, slight as they may be, could have long-term effects that we’re not aware of. Pharmaceuticals can interact with other normal medications, even those at regular, healthy dosages. Elderly, ill and pregnant populations could be more sensitive to even the small amounts of drugs in the water.

We need more information and research on this issue to know both the health effects we may have unknowingly incurred and how to remove the drugs from our water.