The Associated Press released information on an investigation showing a vast array of pharmaceuticals – including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans. The presence of so many prescription drugs and over the counter medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen in so much of our drinking water is heightening worries among scientists of long-term consequences to human health. The water was tested in 24 major metropolitan areas, from Southern California to Northern New Jersey, from Detroit to Louisville, KY and you may be taking drugs every day and not even realize it.
The AP’s investigative team found traces of drugs in 24 of the 62 major metropolitan water systems it checked. In Philadelphia, for example, tiny amounts of at least 56 pharmaceuticals or their byproducts were found and Lake Meade, which is about 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas, found trace levels of birth control pills, steroids, narcotics and other drugs in their water.
These drugs are coming out in the water because people’s bodies are not able to absorb 100% of the medications they take and some is excreted into the sewer system. Water treatment plants are not suited to remove drugs so these byproducts are passed through to the lakes and rivers and eventually make their way into the water supply. The pharmaceutical industry points out the levels of drugs detected are minuscule, and that the amount of medication in the water supply is the equivalent of a single small pill in an Olympic-size swimming pool, however this is a poor excuse because it is ongoing and is a great reason for concern. What will happen after say 50 years of exposure? In addition, with so many different drugs in the water supply, people are ingesting them in combinations never intended. Medical experts are worrying that overexposure to antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance and an inability to fight infection.
Scientists are already seeing effects of some of these drugs on animals. Some male fish are developing female traits and reproductive problems believed to be due to exposure to human birth control hormones.
To avoid exacerbating the problem, it is recommended that instead of flushing unneeded medications down the toilet, discard drugs by diluting them with water or coffee grounds, putting them in a tight container and throwing them in the garbage.
One of the best ways to filter drugs out of tap water is through reverse osmosis, but it’s considered too expensive for treatment plants to implement without proof that the pharmaceuticals in the water are a real health threat.
However, home Reverse Osmosis kits are available from major plumbing supply outlets and online. Regular filters like the Britta are not designed to filter out drugs and are also weak on other metals, toxins and chlorine. RO Systems are very effective and they are also inexpensive and very easy to install so no special plumbing is needed. They have easy filter change mechanisms and are virtually maintenance free. RO filters out up to 99% of all unwanted substances commonly found in tap and well water. They also filter out heavy and chlorine.
There are many websites including EBAY where you can get a good quality reverse osmosis filter for your home.
While most of us only think about the water that we drink, shower water can also have an effect on our health because hot water opens pores and toxins are readily absorbed. Chlorine is one of the biggest offenders in shower water and is linked to diseases of the lungs, heart and even certain cancers. Chlorine contains THM’s and haloforms which are potent chemical pollutants that can trigger the production of excess free radicals in our bodies causing cell damage.
Several studies reported that chronic exposure to chlorine concentrations of around 5 ppm caused respiratory complaints, corrosion of the teeth, inflammation of the mucous membranes of the nose, and increased susceptibility to tuberculosis. Animal studies have reported decreased body weight gain, eye and nose irritation, and effects on the respiratory tract, liver, and kidney from chronic inhalation exposure to chlorine. Other studies have indicated that exposure to chlorine, via inhalation, may alter disease resistance in animals, with higher incidences of emphysema, pneumonia, and tuberculosis reported.
Studies published in Nature and Health magazine indicate the likelihood that regular exposure to chlorinated water can promote the aging process of the skin, much like extended exposure to sunlight. “One out of every two clients coming into the salon has chlorine damage to their hair,” says Vancouver’s top hairdresser Derek London, “It’s almost the same as oxidation from peroxide burning, except chlorine adds density to the hair. You see a lot of breakage and splitting. Hair tangles when it’s shampooed and becomes difficult to comb.”
The chlorine concentrations vary through out the country, and unfortunately Hoboken/Jersey City area has one of the highest concentrations. Using a shower filter is an extremely easy and inexpensive way to take chlorine out of water and have a more pleasant showering experience. Not only will it better your health, but you will also notice softer skin and smoother hair with less frizz. The 2 best technologies for shower filters are KDF and Vitamin C filtration. Both can be found for $30-$50 online. They are super easy to install and work with any standard shower head without losing any water pressure.