Are there prescription drugs in drinking water? I have a confession to make about that.
Just a short time ago it would never have occurred to me that there might be drugs in drinking water in this country. But then someone pointed out a very simple truth to me and now I realize that not only is it likely, it is a fact. And that there are ways you can protect your family.
First, the way we live our lives makes it inevitable that there will be prescription drugs in drinking water. Even quite dangerous pharmaceuticals that are normally only sold carefully for pain relief, high cholesterol, asthma, heart problems and mental conditions like epilepsy.
Just think about what happens when you take a prescription drug.
Part of the ingredients are absorbed into your bloodstream, taken around your body and deposited in cells by some wonderful natural processes that keep us alive. But not everything in the capsule reaches your body cells. A certain amount passes straight through into your bowel and is eliminated when you next use the toilet. Even some of what is absorbed will eventually be released into the city sewage system as normal, bodily by products.
Your local water authorities treat the sewage and dump it into rivers and lakes. Some of that is later collected, treated again, and piped into your home as drinking water.
In other words, there are minute remains of prescription drugs in drinking water in your city.
Of course, these chemicals are present in tiny quantities. And the water officials in your city will no doubt try to assure you that these levels are safe for humans.
Indeed, tests show that over a short period of a couple of months, drinking water containing traces of pharmaceuticals causes no adverse reaction in people. In other words, they are saying we can live with prescription drugs in drinking water.
Well I would say three things about that.
First, doesn't the very idea of being so casual about drinking even little amounts of chemicals strike you as unsafe? We're talking about chemicals - not natural items.
Second, pharmaceuticals are given to specific people for particular reasons. They are helpful to people with certain, specific ailments. But they are not distributed freely to everyone via drinking water, like fluoride is in some communities, for example, because it is unsafe to give everyone grandma's heart pills!
And third, no-one knows for sure what the long term effects will be of having even small amounts of prescription drugs in drinking water. We consume a lot of water in our life time. If it is a swirling concoction of prescription drugs, then you've got to be concerned.
It seems most city water authorities are not concerned.
Federal government regulations do not require the authorities to test if they have drugs in drinking water in their city. So they don't. In fact, a recent survey suggests about half of the major cities in the US do not test for drugs in drinking water. Do you live in Boston, for instance? If so, your city drinking water is not tested for drugs, and nor are there any safety standards for it. Same in New York, Miami and dozens of other major water providers. Testing is a minority activity in our cities.
As a result findings such as those in Philadelphia are common - officials there discovered 56 pharmaceuticals or by products in their drinking water and even more in the catchments area where they draw the city's water.
Fortunately there are some simple things you can do in your home so your children don't have prescription drugs in drinking water.
The most reliable way is to install a water purification system. These days modern home units are compact and some of them work very well. They are economical and moderately priced.
Avoid the reverse osmosis water treatment systems. The large industrial-strength osmosis plants that your local city authorities probably use leaves two gallons of polluted water for every gallon of clean water they produce. But even more sobering, this treatment systems strip out the necessary, essential trace minerals like calcium and magnesium found naturally in water and vital for your health. Distilled water also removes these healthy, essential minerals. The long term effects of not taking in minerals in your water are serious.
Look instead for a filter system that will remove particles, chemicals and dangerous organic matter, but let the life-giving minerals get to your tap. There are a number of them out there, all of them coming with performance data sheets so you can know exactly what dangers they remove and the contaminants they are unable to filter out. I would suggest you start by comparing these information packs.
Len McGrane writes about home water purifiers and pure drinking water from his web site, http://www.pure-drinkingwater.com where he gives advice and helps visitors get rid of prescription drugs in drinking water .