"U.S. manufacturers, including major drugmakers, have legally released at least 271 million pounds of pharmaceuticals into waterways that often provide drinking water — contamination the federal government has consistently overlooked, according to an Associated Press investigation....The data don't show precisely how much of the 271 million pounds comes from drugmakers versus other manufacturers; also, the figure is a massive undercount because of the limited federal government tracking. To date, drugmakers have dismissed the suggestion that their manufacturing contributes significantly to what's being found in water. Federal drug and water regulators agree."
Well of course they do.
I spoke with a representative from one of our local water plants through the Public Works Department and asked about this issue. I asked him what sort of testing was being done on our water supply. At this time, none. According to what he knows (or the PTB who have told him), there is no viable test currently available. What they have is not that reliable (which seems to conflict with the above referenced story). He said current testing is based on 1 part per trillion and detection of pharmaceuticals is at 1 part per billion. (I'm not a chemist but if that's the case, why don't they just start testing at 1 part per billion?) And even if such testing were viable, there is no current technology available to remove such substances (again, according to what he knows). He said the concern isn't in the drugs themselves individually, but in the combination of drugs. I pointed out both should be of concern considering the issue of long-term use even in small quantities of one drug can have profound effects on the human body.
He mentioned a report from the DEQ & EPA was forthcoming for our state. They have tested for pharmaceutical's in 12 of our river's.
This begs a couple of questions. One, if such testing isn't viable, why was it done? And two, if other government agencies and cities can and do test for pharmaceuticals in water (certainly according to a google search), why can't our local city folks test?
Maybe a better question is, why won't they?
Of course we can't just blame industry for dumping the drugs. We only need to look in the mirror and think of those occasions where we have tossed old pharmaceutical's down the drain and toilet.
Currently there's a bill in the state legislature that encourages consumers to return those leftover pills. Senate Bill 598, the Pharmaceutical Take Back Bill, will require the makers of pharmaceutical drugs to maintain a program for consumers to return unused prescription drugs.
Of course that sounds like Big Brother finding out our medical information so unless it's an anonymous program, that could open up a whole new can of worms.