A cocktail of pharmaceutical drugs - including antibiotics, anti-convulsants and mood stabilizers - is in the public water supply in the USA and the UK. Up to 100 different drugs have been detected in our water supply, and in reservoirs, lakes and rivers.
While the amounts are very low, scientists are worried that they may still have a detrimental effect. "These are chemicals that are designed to have very specific effects at very low concentrations. That's what pharmaceuticals do. So when they get out to the environment, it should not be a shock to people that they have effects," says zoologist John Sumpter at Brunel University in London.
The drugs are getting into the water supply from human waste and from people who are throwing away the drugs unused. Anabolic steroids, which are put into cattle to pump them up, are also getting into our drinking water.
Scientists are concerned that the drugs could be made more toxic by the chlorine that is increasingly being introduced into the public water supply.
A new report in America has discovered that at least 41 million homes throughout the States are regularly drinking water that is laced with a vast cocktail of drugs. The water supply in 24 metropolitan areas, including Southern California, Northern New Jersey, Detroit and Louisville, has been contaminated.
None of the existing filtration plants has been designed to eliminate drugs, and the same may also go for the standard home filter systems. Reverse osmosis is the only technology that can remove traces of pharmaceuticals, but it is too expensive for water companies to install for large-scale filtration.
(Source: Associated Press, March 9, 2008).