Pharmaceuticals in the drinking water

Last month I wrote on article about medications in the drinking water of major metropolitan areas. In March, the Associated Press released the results of their 5-month investigation into the presence of pharmaceuticals (such as birth control pills, antibiotics, antidepressants, and acetaminophen or ibuprofen) in the water supply. They found a lot to be worried about. Not only are human medications being flushed down the toilet, literally, but drugs used on animals are making their way into the drinking water.

Current treatment methods don't clean the drug byproducts out of the water and chlorine increases the toxicity of some compounds. Health officials are concerned, though the water authorities say there's no problem. Go figure..

Environmental groups think that the drug companies should pay for the new treatment methods that are needed, and though I usually support and inquiry into the companies' practices and money, I am not sure they should be held fully responsible for this one. After all, the public and doctors are the ones taking and prescribing the medications. Anything that gets put into our bodies makes its way out eventually. Yes, they should take the byproducts and disposal into consideration upon the creation of the pills or solution, but patients, doctors, farmers, and water utilities need to do their part as well.

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