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Dr. Gregory Pais, ND
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Home arrow Blog arrow MORE DRUGS POISON US WATER SUPPLY
MORE DRUGS POISON US WATER SUPPLY
Associated Press, April 20, 2009
The Associated Press reports that U.S. drug manufacturers have released at least 271 million pounds of pharmaceuticals into waterways, impacting our drinking water supply across the country. This toxic contamination has been almost consistently overlooked by federal regulators. In fact, the figure is massively low because of the limited federal government tracking. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) monitors them as industrial chemicals that are released into rivers, lakes and other bodies of water under federal pollution laws, while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies them as active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Last year, the AP reported that trace amounts of a wide range of pharmaceuticals — including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones — have been found in American drinking water supplies. The AP also found that an estimated 250 million pounds of pharmaceuticals and contaminated packaging are thrown away each year by hospitals and long-term care facilities. Including recent findings in Dallas, Cleveland and Maryland's Prince George's and Montgomery counties, pharmaceuticals have been detected in the drinking water of at least 51 million Americans.

Researchers have found that even extremely diluted concentrations of drugs harm fish, frogs and other aquatic species (homeopathic effect, eh?). Also, researchers report that human cells fail to grow normally in the laboratory when exposed to trace concentrations of certain drugs. Some scientists say they are increasingly concerned that the consumption of combinations of many drugs, even in small amounts, could harm humans over decades.

Two common industrial chemicals that are also pharmaceuticals — the antiseptics phenol and hydrogen peroxide — account for 92% of the 271 million pounds identified as coming from drugmakers and other manufacturers. Both can be toxic and both are considered to be ubiquitous in the environment. Other released chemicals that can be used to make drugs and other products: 8 million pounds of the skin bleaching cream hydroquinone, 3 million pounds of nicotine compounds that can be used in quit-smoking patches, 10,000 pounds of the antibiotic tetracycline hydrochloride. Others include treatments for head lice and worms.

A small fraction of pharmaceuticals also leach out of landfills where they are dumped. Pharmaceuticals released onto land include the chemo agent fluorouracil, the epilepsy medicine phenytoin, and the sedative pentobarbital sodium. The overall amount is considerable — 572 million pounds of drugs since 1988.

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