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Drink your Drug?: Your tea and coffee likely have drug residues from the local water supply

Posted March 5, 2013

Business pages have increasingly focused on water as a precious resource as population growth, the lack of conservation methods, and climate cycles have provoked the need for more water with more reports of drought conditions in the news. Water has long been an oft-overlooked tool for optimal overall health. The correlation between aging and dehydration is rarely a focus for consumers and practitioners alike. We may wring our hands about dwindling sources of energy like fossil fuels but there is no equal focus on a finite supply of water.

There is much analysis and evidence that nutrients may be in short supply in the diet of Americans who often consume processed foods in their diet. However, the lack of optimal hydration using clean water does not receive the same emphasis.

Many years ago the realization the lakes of Switzerland contained drug residues piqued the interest of a pre-teen science student in West Virginia. Her water sample taken from the Ohio River that flowed past her home and school was sent to the U.S. Geological Survey group for analysis. Yes, not only did the water from Swiss lakes contain prescription drug residues so did the local water flowing in the Ohio River. And, when the U.S. Geological Society launched a 2002 widespread analysis of U.S. waterways-rivers, lakes, streams, the results were sobering to all. Click here to read further http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,336286,00.html. Most alarming was the acknowledgement our purification methods did little to address the residues of prescription drugs in our water supply. And the lack of consensus regarding the effects of these prescription drug residues can be of concern. Click here to read further http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21885334.

What drugs have been found in our drinking water? “In 2002, the USGS published the results of its first-ever reconnaissance of man-made contaminants. Using highly sensitive assays, the agency found traces of 82 different organic contaminants — fertilizers and flame retardants as well as pharmaceuticals — in surface waters across the nation. These drugs included natural and synthetic hormones, antibiotics, antihypertensive, painkillers, and antidepressants In 2002, the USGS published the results of its first-ever reconnaissance of man-made contaminants. Using highly sensitive assays, the agency found traces of 82 different organic contaminants — fertilizers and flame retardants as well as pharmaceuticals — in surface waters across the nation. These drugs included natural and synthetic hormones, antibiotics, antihypertensives, painkillers, and antidepressants” Click here to read in further detail http://www.alternet.org/story/43242/how_prescription_drugs_are_poisoning_our_waters. Americans take more prescription drugs than ever before as do our children as do our pets. Drug residues from urine as well as prescriptions flushed down commodes are now recognized to even contain chemotherapy drugs.

Consumer Health in 2011 published a white paper written by a pharmacist of the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy  addressing the issue. Click here to read further http://www.consumer-health.com/services/PrescriptionDrugsinYourFoodandDrinkingWater.php  The unusual combination of medications found in these residues as well as the dangers of growing resistance to antibiotics indicate it is far from a simple issue. Recent research published in the journal Science now reveals yet another consideration that is, the “previously underappreciated effects of psychiatric medications in waste-water on aquatic life.” Click here to read further http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324432004578304281266453790.html. Researchers found a widely prescribed antianxiety affected fish including perch making them more antisocial and vulnerable to predators. One wonders the implications for young fish and young children whose growing brains are both more susceptible and more likely to show effects because of their size.

The comment that “so far, federal regulators have found no evidence of harm to humans” is of little solace” to consumers. A preteen science student’s interest provoked the “first-ever analysis of man-made contaminants” in US waterways in 2002.”  Yikes, what if she had not been curious after reading a report that found drugs in Swiss lakes?? 11 years later the use of the term “under-appreciated effects” in this focus by Swedish scientists looking at fish exposed to common antianxiety medication appears to indicate there continues to be much we don’t know. And, regretfully, what we don’t know can affect us-from wildlife that swim in these waters, consumers whose drinking water contains these drug residues, and brains exposed to this increasingly bizarre cocktail of medication residues.

“This is a global issue “was the conclusion of study’s co-author, scientist Jerker Fick. Yet, the only global reaction appears to be a collective burying heads in the sand! The recommendations from the 2011 Consumer Health white paper bear repeating (it is hard to hear when your ears are buried):

What You Can Do To Minimize Your Risk.

  • Drinking  bottled or filtered water may help reduce your exposure to medicines in  the water supply. Keep in mind that most companies that bottle water do not treat for medications. This means it is possible that bottled water could still contain small amounts of medicine.
  • Avoid flushing drugs down the toilet when possible. It is recommended that medications disposed of at home be mixed with an unpalatable substance.   Coffee grounds or kitty litter are good examples. Even though this practice simply moves drugs to landfills, government agencies prefer this  option to polluting our water.
  • Visit your  local pharmacy for information on drug take-back programs. Such programs  will properly dispose of your unused medicines for you.
  • Make sure  you take your medicines as directed by your doctor. This will reduce the amount of unused medicines found in landfills. Medicines taken by the  public also have the advantage of being partially broken down by the body when compared to unused medicines.
  • Buy foods that will reduce your exposure. Health and organic grocery stores sell products from animals that are not given growth hormones or antibiotics.Consumers, we all need educate ourselves and tell everyone in your circle of family and friends.

Deborah