healthy house institute

4 Free HHI Books:

Creating a Healthy Household, The Healthy House Answer Book, Healthy Home Building, The Healthy House 4th Edition
Your email will only be used as described in our Privacy Policy

Follow us on Twitter

 

Search

Proud Supporter of:

OnlineCourses.com

 

OpenCourseWare

Blog/Opinion

Blog/Opinion: Prescription Medications in Your Water Supply?

By HHI Staff

One class of pollutants that has not been considered much involves the vast variety of human and animal prescription medications now being found in increasing concentrations in our water supplies. These include hormones, chemotherapy drugs, pain killers, antibiotics, antidepressants, tranquilizers, etc. Some of these find their way into drinking water sources because leftover, old, or unwanted drugs are simply flushed down the toilet, or poured down the sink drain. Other medications are illegally dumped, along with contaminated syringes, etc., into waterways—where there are no questions asked, no fees, and no regulations.

 

blog continues below ↓


We do not strictly control Google ad content. If you believe any Google ad is inappropriate, please email us directly here.

However, a far greater percentage of medication pollution is simply excreted out from people and animals. It may be surprising to learn that, in reality, only a fraction of most prescription drugs are utilized internally. In fact, the majority (typically 50-90%) are eliminated in urine and feces—unchanged from the original chemical formulation. The remainder is excreted in the form of metabolites. These are chemicals produced as by-products of the body’s interaction with the drug(s).

 

Think about the routine practice of dosing farm animal with antibiotics, growth stimulators, etc. and their resulting medication-rich urine and dung. This excrement is often completely untreated. Of course, most human urine and feces is “properly” disposed of in private septic systems, or by utility waste-water treatment plants. Yet, in all these cases, the medicinal compounds don’t biodegrade into harmless, simple components. That’s because many of them were formulated to be persistent (long-lasting) and lipophilic (dissolvable only in fat, not water).

 

Furthermore, some reports indicate that prescription drug metabolites may be even more persistent and lipophilic than the original medications. It’s little wonder then that many prescription drugs (and their metabolites) accumulate in the environment, and eventually enter water supplies. According to Rachel’s Environment & Health Weekly, “German scientists report that anywhere from 30 to 60 drugs can be measured in a typical water sample.”

 

Interestingly, it was not until 1972 (when drugs were first accidentally detected in Kansas City’s sewage) that there was any real concern about prescription medications being an environmental pollutant. Apparently, no one had even thought to look for them in the environment before. Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken the position that it’s officially concerned about drugs in the nation’s water supply. However, they feel that the current concentrations are still too low to pose any danger. Yet, at the same time, they’ve created a regulatory policy aimed at all new drugs, that requires manufacturers to provide “estimates of concentrations that result from excretion.” So, progress is being made—slowly.

 

As a water-using consumer, having medicinal residues and/or their metabolites in your drinking water is not ideal at any concentration. However, it’s difficult to say, at this time, with any certainty, how to best remove them at home. Of course, it’s likely that a certain quantity could be removed by activated charcoal, especially carbon blocks, but perhaps not all. Distillation may be helpful, too, but will it remove every compound? One water tester (a pro-reverse-osmosis advocate) believes that “only reverse-osmosis units can be trusted to do a good job on these kinds of pollutants.” Because of the current lack of information, it’s probably safe to say that water distillers with activated-charcoal filters, and reverse-osmosis units with activated-charcoal filters are likely the better treatment options.

 

HHI Error Correction Policy

HHI is committed to accuracy of content and correcting information that is incomplete or inaccurate. With our broad scope of coverage of healthful indoor environments, and desire to rapidly publish info to benefit the community, mistakes are inevitable. HHI has established an error correction policy to welcome corrections or enhancements to our information. Please help us improve the quality of our content by contacting allen@healthyhouseinstitute.com with corrections or suggestions for improvement. Each contact will receive a respectful reply.

The Healthy House Institute (HHI), a for-profit educational LLC, provides the information on HealthyHouseInstitute.com as a free service to the public. The intent is to disseminate accurate, verified and science-based information on creating healthy home environments.

 

While an effort is made to ensure the quality of the content and credibility of sources listed on this site, HHI provides no warranty - expressed or implied - and assumes no legal liability for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, product or process disclosed on or in conjunction with the site. The views and opinions of the authors or originators expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of HHI: its principals, executives, Board members, advisors or affiliates.

(Note: The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of The Healthy House Institute, LLC.)

Prescription Medications in Your Water Supply?:  Created on October 23rd, 2010.  Last Modified on October 23rd, 2010

 

We do not strictly control Google ad content. If you believe any Google ad is inappropriate, please email us directly here.

 

 

Information provided by The Healthy House Institute is designed to support, not to replace the relationship between patient/physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

Education Partners

 

 

Popular Topics: Air Cleaners & Air Purifiers | Allergies & Asthma | Energy Efficiency & Energy Savings | Healthy Homes | Green Building
Green Cleaning | Green Homes | Green Living | Green Remodeling | Indoor Air Quality | Water Filters | Water Quality

© 2006-2017 The Healthy House Institute, LLC.

 

About The Healthy House Institute | Contact HHI | HHI News & Media | Linking Resources | Advertising Info | Privacy Policy | Legal Disclaimer

 

HHI Info