Drugs in drinking water
Prozac in Tap Water
We assume that our tap water is relatively safe, despite the flouride it
contains and the fact that chemicals are used to treat it. Bottled water is
assumed healthier and cleaner, although the reality of bottled water (see The
Rising Firefly volume 49) is often much less pure than tap water and is not
regulated adequately. When we hear news of problems with our water supply, we
always receive it like an electrical shock - water is essential for life! A
recent report by the National Water Research Institute for Health and
Environment Canada tells us that tap water, while heavily regulated, often
contains traces of drugs - namely, prozac, painkillers, and cholesterol
Nine different drugs were found in water samples near 20 different water treatment plants across Ontario, Canada. The drugs were "acidic pharmaceuticals", which include ibuprofin and neproxin (painkillers), gemfibrozil (cholesterol-lowering medicine), and prozac (anti-depressant). The area with the highest levels of contamination were from locations near sewage treatment plants, suggesting that the chemicals are getting into our water supply from our own bodily wastes! Areas that tested the lowest were plants whose sourcing water was from groundwater or lakes.
The long-term effects of the consumption of these drugs through tap water is yet unknown. The amounts are well below prescription doses, but even small amounts of chemicals can have devestating effects. Tiny residues of hormones disrupt the reproductive abilities of fish and reptiles. Antibiotic residues have been targeted as a possible cause of resistance to them. Many medications will hurt a fetus, even in miniscule amounts. The US Geological Survey and the Department of Environmental Protection revealed that 42-79% of male smallmouth bass from the Potomac River harbor nicotine-related chemicals and traces of caffeine. They have also started to produce eggs!