Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Kids preventing pharmaceuticals in water

Students from Pontiac Township High School in Pontiac, Illinois are working to get pharmaceuticals out of our drinking water. You may have seen the story this week on national news. An Associated Press investigation found all kinds of medications in our water from anti-depressants, to antibiotics, heart medicine, birth control pills, steroids, narcotics and more. This is certainly a concern for parents. The high school students were well aware of the problem and started a program in January to safely get rid of pharmaceuticals that are typically flushed down the drain. They send the drugs to an incinerator owned by the company Med-Turn. The teachers involved in the program say the participating pharmacies are picking up the costs of incinerating the drugs. Other states, like Michigan, are already copying their program and they hope to make it a nationwide policy.

If you haven't read the full story on water concerns, Here's the story we ran on HOI 19 this week:

The latest public health worry about tainted substances is hitting close to home.It involves water tainted with drug residues-- water that may come from your tap.

An Associated Press investigation found traces of drugs in the water supplies of 24 major metropolitan areas out of 62 major water systems it checked. All kinds of medications: from anti-depressants, to anti-biotics, heart medicine, birth control pills, steroids, narcotics and more.

Dr. David Carpenter said, "There is no way that having pharmaceutical drugs in the water supply is going to be of any benefit."

How does this happen? Our bodies don't absorb all of the medicine we take, so some of it is excreted and flushed into our sewers. Sewage treatment plants don't remove the drugs. The treated water then flows into rivers and lakes and then to drinking water plants which typically don't screen for drugs.

But can it harm you? Scientists are seeing effects on animals. Male fish have developed female traits and have reproductive problems. The believed cause: exposure to human birth control hormones.

Marjorie Powell, a pharmaceutical industry trade group attorney said, "No studies have demonstrated any effects on human health."

The pharmaceutical industry points out the levels of drugs detected are minuscule. And the EPA says, while it is concerned about the issue, the agency points out, American water is still some of the safest in the world.

If you're still concerned about the possibility of your water being unsafe, experts say you can buy a reverse osmosis water filtration system.

Traditional water filters aren't designed to clear away drugs.

Experts also say you're not necessarily safe if you drink bottle water, because that water is often re-packaged tap water that is not treated for pharmaceuticals.

The first thing that came to my mind is the thought of the increase of certain conditions like asthma, allergies, type 1 diabetes and a host of others. Could there be a connection? You always hear people say maybe it's something in the water. What are your thoughts?-NewsAnchorMom Jen


Administrator said...

I have water filters on all the faucets in our house and the shower heads. Since I started using them our entire family has been very healthy, including our first winter with no colds or flus. said...

Do you have the reverse osmosis water filters? The AP story said other filters will not take out antibiotics. You are the first person who has said their family hasn't been sick all winter. It has been illness after illness at our house. Maybe I need some filters!

Steve said...

Incinerating the drugs is very smart. Drugs in the water is a serious problem and is another consequence of our prescription drug epidemic. Somehow we have become convinced that we no longer have to confront our problems but simply take a pill to not handle the problem but hide the symptoms.

As the director of Novus Medical Detox, I daily see the ravages caused by prescription drug addiction created by doctors prescribing it to their patients and then the patients either continuing to obtain it or purchasing these drugs on the internet or the street. Probably the worst of these drugs is OxyContin--legal heroin.

Pain is real. I have had to deal with it much of my life first from polio and then from two surgeries. However, there are alternatives to painkillers and they must be tried first. Let's not treat the symptoms but the cause.

Prescription drug addiction is an epidemic and we must do everything we can to stop it before it overwhelms us. Education is a must. Detox and rehab are the only solutions for people who are addicted and have decided that they must change their lives.

We also have to properly dispose of the drugs that we clean out of our medicine cabinets.

Steve Hayes

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