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August 2019 (Vol. 4 Issue 6)

Up to half US population could have prescription drugs in their drinking water
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

Up to half US population could have prescription drugs in their drinking water image

Even if you don't take prescription drugs, you still might be. Low levels of pharmaceuticals have been discovered in drinking water in Pennsylvania, and researchers estimate that up to half the US population could be exposed.

Over-the-counter and prescription drugs, including antibiotics, have been discovered in drinking water from wells supplying homes in the state, say researchers from Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

Up to six different pharmaceutical compounds were discovered in some of the samples taken from 26 households with private well. The most common were the antibiotics ofloxacin and sulfamethoxazole.

The researchers tested only for seven compounds and say the water samples could have contained others that weren't detected. Although the amounts were tiny, lead researcher Faith Kibuye warned that "even at low concentrations, pharmaceuticals could interact together and influence the biochemical functioning of the human body."

The drugs can get in the water from human waste, and from people tipping the drugs down the toilet.

Around half the American population gets its drinking water from ground-water aquifers, and 13 million households use private wells for their drinking water.


References

(Source: Proceedings of the American Association of Agricultural and Biological Engineers annual meeting, July 31, 2018)

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