AP: 41 Million Americans Drink Water Contaminated With Antibiotics, Anti-Convulsants, Mood Stabilizers, And Sex Hormones

A soup of pharmaceutical waste spews from the faucets supplying drinking water to 41 million Americans, according to a disturbing study from the Associated Press. At least 24 major cities are affected, including New York, Washington, Boston Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Here are some of the key test results obtained by the AP:

  • Officials in Philadelphia said testing there discovered 56 pharmaceuticals or byproducts in treated drinking water, including medicines for pain, infection, high cholesterol, asthma, epilepsy, mental illness and heart problems. Sixty-three pharmaceuticals or byproducts were found in the city’s watersheds.
  • Anti-epileptic and anti-anxiety medications were detected in a portion of the treated drinking water for 18.5 million people in Southern California.
  • Researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey analyzed a Passaic Valley Water Commission drinking water treatment plant, which serves 850,000 people in Northern New Jersey, and found a metabolized angina medicine and the mood-stabilizing carbamazepine in drinking water.
  • A sex hormone was detected in San Francisco’s drinking water.
  • The drinking water for Washington, D.C., and surrounding areas tested positive for six pharmaceuticals.
  • Three medications, including an antibiotic, were found in drinking water supplied to Tucson, Ariz.

The situation is undoubtedly worse than suggested by the positive test results in the major population centers documented by the AP.

What Exactly Is In My Drinking Water?
Drugs. Lots of drugs. Trace amounts of the prescriptions we take and the steroids we inject into cattle are winding their way into our water supply. When we (or our eventual steak dinner) can’t fully metabolize a pharmaceutical, it passes straight through us, past treatment plans, and back into the ground until we (or our cow friend) drink it up. Detected drugs include: “antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones.”

Ok, Drinking Water Is Bad. I Can Switch To Bottled Water, Right?
No. Bottled water is drinking water suspended in a wasteful plastic shell. Like municipalities, water bottlers don’t test for pharmaceuticals. Home filtration systems are equally useless against drugs.

Um, Ok. There Is No Escape. Am I Safe?
Eh, maybe. Scientists aren’t exactly sure, but the research isn’t encouraging. Pharmaceuticals, unlike general pollutants, are specifically designed to futz with the human body. “…recent studies—which have gone virtually unnoticed by the general public—have found alarming effects on human cells and wildlife.” ‘Alarming effects’ means that cancers grow faster, kidney cells stop regenerating, and heart cells become cranky and inflamed.

This Sucks. What Is The Government Doing?
Ah yes, the government. Maybe they can offer an encouraging and meaningful response? Let’s turn for reassurance to Benjamin Grumbles, the EPA’s assistant administrator for water:

“We recognize it is a growing concern and we’re taking it very seriously.”


AP Probe Finds Drugs in Drinking Water [ABC]
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. mwdavis says:

    Well, I’d take it very seriously, but I just had a big glass of water so I feel pretty mellow about the whole thing . ..

  2. parad0x360 says:

    My legs and back hurt, maybe I should go fill a couple glass’s up with some tap water…could help!

    This is terrible and hopefully there is someway to fix this. Antibiotics arent meant to be taken constantly and if they are in the water supply it would lead to them being useless. They tend to destroy the immune system as well.

  3. UpsetPanda says:

    Can any of this get filtered out through Brita or Pur filters?

  4. cashmerewhore says:

    If they could get my birth control pills in the water, I’d save a fortune in pharmaceutical copays…..

    No need to buy your xanax and oxy off the street, just boil your tap water down and enjoy concentrated doses without hydroencephalitis (sp?)

  5. wav3form says:

    Mind control in the water. Genious.

  6. mac-phisto says:

    i could be wrong – i haven’t been to a treatment plant since i was a little kid – but i don’t think distillation is used in the treatment process. that may be difficult/expensive on a large scale, but i think it resolves this problem.

  7. I’d make my own water but the cost of hydrogen is just outrageous!

  8. Thomas Palmer says:

    I think we finally figured out what is wrong with San Fransico, just look at what they had in their water.

  9. cookmefud says:

    oh, well at least they recognize that it’s a “growing concern”.

    thanks EPA!

  10. bohemian says:

    Our city water straight out of the tap fails the health department cleanliness tests for public pool water.

    We have a water distiller, a big water dispenser in the fridge and reusable water bottles. That is the only water we drink.

    Supposedly the main problem in our water is farm chemical runoff and manure. So they dump tons of chlorine in it.

    We bought the distiller off of Amazon for about $100. Thinking about buying a larger one.

  11. backbroken says:

    I heard this is the crux of Hillary’s plan to provide afforable prescription drugs to all Americans.

  12. lore says:

    And we were worried about terrorists polluting our water with some chemical agent…

  13. nonzenze says:

    This is a case of modern testing being so incredibly sensitive that they are picking up such small amounts (< 1ppm) as to be physiologically irrelevant. Did you know there’s also a measurable amount of cocaine on most US currency? Measurable, of course, because chemists are very clever, not because your money is getting you high.

    Another case of sensationalist journalism combined with the inability of reasonable people to apply common sense.

  14. Techno Viking says:


    Boil water first, then filter it and boil again, cool it and drink it. I think its the only way. Now I am going to buy filters. Also get a shower filter for the body. Makes more sense.

  15. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Of course the article fails to mention specifics about what drugs were found and in what percentages, which tells me it’s another piece of alarmist nonsense that probably wouldn’t look relatively benign if the author actually published the specifics…if he even knows.

    @nonzenze: Exactly. And yet, nobody seems to be overly concerned about cocaine on the currency because there’s just not enough there to have any effect on the human body whatsoever.

    The AP gets an F-. Come back when you have an article with documented facts.

    PS: And if you’re worried about incredibly minute traces of substances in the water, don’t even ask about what’s in the air or how much electromagnetic radiation you’re absorbing by standing next to that laser printer.

  16. Primate says:

    I doubt it, I’m sure water treatment plants filter the water before they send it out. At least I hope so.

  17. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    @Grrrrrrrrr: “would have look relatively benign”

    Stupid typo

  18. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    OMG, it’s the .0000000000001 ppm of diazepam in my water making me woozy!

  19. Primate says:

    @Techno Viking:
    While that would disinfect the water I’m not so sure it would remove any chemicals.

  20. Landru says:


  21. LAGirl says:

    i don’t drink the water out of the tap, but i do use the ice cubes from the ice cube maker. our fridge uses a PureSource2 water filter. wonder if that filters any of the drugs out?

  22. ChuckECheese says:

    @cashmerewhore: You mean hyperhydration, aka water intoxication?

  23. homerjay says:

    And there is fecal matter on the vegetables I buy! It all balances out…

  24. VidaLondres says:

    http://www.iamtryingtobelieve.com is the first thing that springs to mind. :/.

  25. ExecutorElassus says:

    @bohemian: Do you realize that fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous Communist plot we have ever had to face?

  26. magnus150 says:

    I’m gonna go get high on water, brb.

  27. I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise.

  28. Galls says:

    I still refuse to buy bottled water.

    Maybe this is why tap water usually wins in blind taste tests.

  29. homerjay says:

    @Galls: This IS tap water they’re talking about

  30. B says:

    So, uhhh, Dr. Strangelove was right? They are putting mind altering chemicals in our drinking water.

  31. clevershark says:

    @parad0x360: “Antibiotics arent meant to be taken constantly and if they are in the water supply it would lead to them being useless.”

    Worse than that, they lead to antibiotic-tolerant super-bacteria.

  32. Crrusher says:

    man chlorine kills all that stuff, and plus the antibiotics help kill the e-coli in the water

  33. Ghede says:

    … Double-distillation here I come! I’m glad I stopped drinking tap water when it started to taste like someone decided to mine every heavy metal known to man, mix it all up, and make some metallic kool-aid.

  34. klusta says:

    “A sex hormone was detected in San Francisco’s drinking water.”

    Okay, I can’t help it — that made me snicker a bit. :P

  35. davethebutcher says:

    @mwdavis: @discounteggroll: @backbroken:

    Ah, this is why I read the comments. Very nice.

  36. dakotad555 says:

    Now if we could only combine all those marvelous chemicals into a new “vitamin water.” We could have 41 million sexed up, mellowed out, non-convulsing, virus free Americans. If this happened in Russia, they would throw a parade.

  37. thesuperpet says:

    Note to self: stop making my daughter’s bottles with tap water.

  38. hapless says:

    @thesuperpet: The bottle itself is more of a threat than the tap water. (And it’s not much of a threat.)

  39. MARTHA__JONES says:

    This was on NPR the other day. They said the other part of the problem is that people dispose of unused pills improperly by flushing them down the toilet. Usually these can be taken to a pharmacy to be disposed of properly.

  40. Maulleigh says:

    A lot of things bother me, but I’m choosing not to let this one bother me. It’s like not thinking about what goes on in the kitchen at Denny’s.

    Once you go down that road, you turn into Ted Kaczynski living in a shack in Idaho.

  41. drallison83 says:

    @nonzenze: Thank you!

  42. ClankBoomSteam says:


    Is there anyone in our government — like, ANYONE AT ALL — that attempts to figure these things out and solve them BEFORE they become a “growing concern” that they can “take very seriously”?!

  43. @Techno Viking: You assume that the boiling actually breaks down the chemicals in the water, which it may or may not (most likely not).

    If the chemicals are stable enough to survive your digestive tract, waste water treatment, nature, water filtration etc…. I doubt boiling it will save you.

  44. SkyeBlue says:

    Is there ANYTHING we don’t have to be scared of anymore? Jeez.

  45. smarty says:

    I liked this quote from the article:
    “Arlington, Texas, acknowledged that traces of a pharmaceutical were detected in its drinking water but cited post-9/11 security concerns in refusing to identify the drug.”

    Uh….what does 9/11 have to do with pharmaceuticals in the water today? Any 9/11 tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorists want to explain?

  46. humphrmi says:

    What I read:


    What I didn’t read: How this matters. No talk whatsoever of any impact on human health. Even the EPA – who we might think to look to for advice on this – says

    “It brings a question to people’s minds that if the fish were affected … might there be a potential problem for humans?”

    The EPA official who asked that question didn’t bother to answer it, only saying that maybe fish are “exquisitely sensitive”. Huh?

    I don’t see anything here to get worked up about.

  47. BigBoat says:


  48. lemur says:

    @smarty: “Any 9/11 tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorists want to explain?”

    Conspiracy theorists know that tinfoil has been contaminated too so they don’t wear tinfoil hats anymore. Now they duct tape to their heads organically grown rocks rich in metallic ore.

  49. The Government has been putting a mind numbing mood stabilizer in your drinking water for many many years now. And the funny thing is that most people actually want it in their water, because they think it is good for their teeth. It is called fluoride.

  50. burgundyyears says:

    Consumerist has come full circle to scare mongering now. What’s next, live feeds from Art Bell?

  51. I remember a study a few years back that measured drug byproducts and how you can tell a lot about a certain population because of it. For example, in DC, there are a lot of cocaine byproducts in the potomac, and a lot of crack cocaine and PCP byproducts in the anacostia. Of course, I think that study just took samples from the actual rivers, which I don’t believe are used for drinking (at least I hope they aren’t….)

    Someone else did have a good point that showers use drinking water, so who knows what the F is in that stuff.

  52. wring says:

    since when has the consumerist gone libertarian?

  53. jimmy37 says:

    And what were the concentrations found? Would that be less or more than the amount of rat feces allowed in peanut butter? I am waiting for the blog about flouride poisoning our water.

    BTW, did you know our water is contaminated with 100% full-strength dihyrogen monoxide and the EPA is doing nothing about it? Go here to learn the awful truth: [www.dhmo.org]

  54. MelL says:

    @ClankBoomSteam: I think one of the problems is that getting attention for preventative measures as opposed to reactive measure is more difficult. Not to mention the idea that it looks better for elected officials to be seen reacting to something that needs fixing and thus being seen as a problem-fixer. ‘Hey, there’s an issue and so-and-so is on top of it!’

  55. freshyill says:

    Jeez, who would have guessed that in North Jersey, where many, many pharmaceutical manufacturers are based, some of these drugs would end up in the water? I’m shocked, pharmaceutical companies! And to think I trusted you!

  56. MyPetFly says:

    I just had a glass of water, and my parasitic twin is starting to convulse!!! What should I do?!?!?!??

  57. cronick says:

    There was a movie back in the 60s called “Wild in the Streets” in which a bunch of hippies dumped LSD into the Washington D.C. water supply, got themselves elected to Congress and passed a law that put everyone over 30 into “old-people” camps…

    I’m just sayin’

  58. flameboy says:

    @Crrusher: lol. I didnt know chlorine could “kill” chemical compounds.

  59. Skiffer says:

    If you’re a hypochondriac, look for bottled water that is vapor distilled – or get a home vapor distiller (which was already mentioned)…

  60. BugMeNot2 says:

    OK, AP, please learn how to report scientific issues. How about telling us the parts per million (that’s the actual drug concentrations, for those that don’t know the terminology). Tell us the names of more of these researchers. Writing “scientists say” is worthless. Are these scientists experts in pharmacology or are they theoretical physicists? I can’t tell from reading this article!

    Learn how to cite sources. You journalists may remember something about that from an entry-level college class. I learned how to do that in high school! Most government reports are available online, and even if they aren’t, people who have the scientific know-how such as I would like to ascertain whether you are telling us something useful or just looking for some advertisement money.

    For all of you who are scared, you are in more danger whenever an aircraft with a radar flies overhead, when you stand next to a microwave, or even when you are prescribed most sorts of pills –one in a million chance of dangerous side effects in many of them!

    burgundyyears, I think we would be better off if Art Bell replaced the AP entirely. Then we wouldn’t have anyone thinking that “science” news is credible.

  61. mrpenbrook says:

    I knew it would come to this:

    “Ask your doctor if Tap Water is right for you!”

  62. BugMeNot2 says:


    Brita type filters do almost nothing…try a berkey.. [berkeystore.com] they take out EVERYTHING

  63. Mr. Gunn says:

    OMG! chemicals in water! Chemicals in milk! Chemicals in meat!

    /Carey Crackpot scores a direct hit.

  64. guevera says:

    Don’t write off the story as scaremongering. The AP investigative unit is among the most staid, understated crews in the business. There are outlets I take with a grain of salt. The AP isn’t one of them. This story was carefully written and the result of a ton of analysis. It shows the evidence that’s out there and shows that this is something that we should be looking at. It’s got me concerned, a little pissed, but not terrified.

    It’s also got me thinking about checking this out in my town — you want to see some scarmongering? Just wait till we run the promo for that story! (just kidding. mostly.)

    @smarty: the “9/11 security” line is used ALL THE TIME by agencies of all types to avoid giving the public information that should be public. It’s routinely bullshit. It’s used to avoid embarrassment, frustrate efforts to hold government accountable to the people, or, most frequently, as an excuse by lazy public employees from actually doing work. Because it would take so much effort to find that report in the files, photocopy it, and send me a copy.

  65. azgirl says:

    Reverse osmosis might take out the drugs– might- but nothing else short of distillation as mentioned above- then it wouldnt taste too great.

    These small doses of drugs have been indicted in the feminization of frogs in the wild… we are next… frogs and such are generally good indicators of what is happening in the water. So we should all be needing artificial insemination pretty soon…

    EPA doesn’t regulate this area at all in terms of drugs in the water… just an fyi. How could they? They come mainly from consumers, not businesses.

  66. Blackneto says:

    @Dave Barak: I’m a quatto so i’m really getting a kick out of these replies.

  67. yesteryear says:

    wow. this is really sad. i think this might be the middle of the end. (the beginning of the end started a while ago, by the way)

  68. Aph says:

    This is a really important article, so pardon my insane critique when I say I think the question’s up there serve to focus the reader but in a way that makes us all out to be after a “Rich person only” way to deal with this.
    THAT sucks

  69. MyCokesBiggerThanYours says:

    haha I kew you guys would go all crazy over this. You do realize that 150 million Americans are already taking these drugs and if you foolish pass Universal Health Care that will jump to at least 80%. Democrats and hypochondriacs WANT to take these drugs.

  70. reviarg says:

    There is actually a large amount of research currently involved in identifying the types and quantities of pharmaceuticals found in drinking water. When I was interviewing for grad school I was offered a project in the detection of pharmaceuticals in tap water at one university, but I ended up going somewhere else. The EPA is taking this seriously but before it can become regulation there must be proof that the quantity detected can pose a threat to human health. Once there is a correlation a removal method must be chosen. Don’t expect this to happen for at least a decade. Smaller communities are still struggling finding a way to pay for updated arsenic removal systems.
    Most common methods in water treatment facilities are ineffective against these compounds. I believe activated carbon filters may remove these, but I’m not positive.
    Bugmenot, based on current research with hormones in water the results are most likely in parts per trillion. All the emerging contaminants are found in such small quantities, but they are so potent that the true effects aren’t well know yet.
    I did a quick search on the AWWA website and they do have a guide published for this. The link takes you to the order form.

  71. reviarg says:

    @azgirl: The EPA does regulate water treatment policies. They are the ones who determine the MCL for public water.

    Aside from frogs, feminization of fish has been observed near waste water treatment plant effluent.

  72. erica.blog says:

    @MyCokesBiggerThanYours: Duhhh, many people are on medications — the quite important distinction with this situation is that medications are prescribed by doctors, not the water company. Neither the current privatized system nor universal health care proposals advocate the indiscriminate distribution of pharmaceuticals through the water supply.

  73. KogeLiz says:

    Boston Chicago

  74. @smarty: Don’t you know “9/11” is go’vt code for “don’t ask questions”?

  75. kimsama says:

    @BugMeNot2: Thanks for the link. I’m actually in the process of researching purification systems now.

    Rich in irony, though, is the fact that Berkey promotes giving you a free nalgene bottle with every purchase. Because once your water is ridiculously clean, you’ll want to add in some Bisphenol A as soon as possible.

  76. Jackasimov says:

    As a scientist and major shareholder in a large pharmaceutical company I believe it’s not the governments role to get involved. Let the market sort itself out. This is a free country after all not China or South Africa.

  77. Jackasimov says:

    @MyCokesBiggerThanYours: It clearly doesn’t know what it is talking about. It needs more medication it’s own self.

    As a doctor, democrat, and erstwhile hypochondriac I would suggest it drinks more water.

  78. FMulder says:

    @Jackasimov: Yeah, I feel the same way about anything that would protect the well-being of your children, your mom, your dad – – let the market sort it out, none of that complex government protection.

    As long as a corporation can create a nutritional liquid in a lab, sell for a nicely high price, why try to have clean water? I mean, aren’t we all full of chemicals already? For that matter, why any restriction on air pollution — let the companies spew whatever they want into the air, the market will sort it out. It is a free country, for companies to do what they want.

    Until a mass population of people in this country develop some values that don’t worship $$$$ over all else, we will rapidly move towards a society where “only 85% contaminated” is a mark of purity.

  79. Jackasimov says:

    @noasalira: It’s clearly not the pharmaceutical company’s fault that the drinking water is “allegedly” contaminated. The fault lies with the consumers who dump their medications down the toilet and into our drinking water to dispose if them. It’s the stupid and uninformed that are poisoning the rest of us…”allegedly.”

  80. Landru says:

    Not to be alarmist, but there is a heart condition that used to only occur in the elderly (those over 70) Apparently lots of younger people are getting it (people in their 20’s on up). The American Heart Association calls it an epidemic. Nobody knows the cause, the AHA says maybe obesity – but I know one big group that it affects are athletes. I thought maybe it was from standing too close to the microwave or something.

    Just sayin’…


  81. Babysealclubber says:

    @guevera: I’m sorry, but the story is alarmist. The writers of the story devote 90% plus of the article “revealing” that drugs are in our drinking water. Not only is this not surprising, given our ability to detect chemicals at the parts per trillion level, it should be expected. raviarg certainly has a point that we don’t currently know the effects of some of these hormones have on our body, but it’s important to understand that *all* pharmaceuticals have been tested by the FDA at concentrations *far* above what we could possible consume through our drinking water.

    I share none of your pleasant feelings about AP. I couldn’t agree with nonzenz and grrrrr more. The mass media in general are very poor reporters of anything related to science.

  82. youbastid says:

    Now I can get my drugs in more places, like Losangebostonyorkicago.

  83. vastrightwing says:

    Now if only the pharmaceutical companies don’t get the idea to sue the department of public works for violating their drug patents.

  84. henwy says:

    This is idiocy. The doses are miniscule and it’s never been shown in ANY study that parts per billion or trillion of these substances have any effect. You might as well bitch that someone who just chewed up some asprin a hour ago burped in the same room you were in. Chances are you’d breathe in the same amount of asprin in the air that you’d get in a glass of water, if that.

  85. courtneywoah says:

    I wonder what we are supposed to be distracted from with these findings, seeing as they likely knew this was happening but had nothing else to talk about this week. Issues like these are mainstream media one day and on the back-burner the next.

  86. nonzenze says:

    @Landru: No. You can measure the microwaves and they don’t penetrate the wire-mesh (< .001% gets through) which amounts to less microwaves than a WiFi network, cell phone or power lines.

    At least in the case of the latter, a huge study was done showing that proximity to power lines was uncorrelated with any health outcomes.

  87. I would like to point out the conversation on this site a few months ago where I got berated for saying I drank distilled water because L.A. tap water is noxious and everyone leapt to the defense of the wonderful tap. Yeah….

  88. chatterboxwriting says:

    @Landru: I read the article you linked and then did some further research. Some people with AF have no symptoms, so it is possible that some younger people have always had AF and never sought medical attention because they had no symptoms or the symptoms were not bothersome enough to prompt them to seek medical attention.

  89. guevera says:

    1) great handle

    2) “*all* pharmaceuticals have been tested by the FDA at concentrations *far* above what we could possible consume through our drinking water.”

    — so? The FDA doesn’t test long term exposure. More importantly, I don’t have blind faith in any agency anymore. I never thought I’d be at a point where I don’t trust the pet food or children’s toys on store shelves.

    3) “The mass media in general are very poor reporters of anything related to science.”

    — yup. we do. that doesn’t make this story wrong.

    In general, pieces like this aren’t the problem (with an occasional hugely embarrassing exception). A story like this is carefully reported and edited. It’s usually the quickie “day turn” stories that bastardize scientific findings. Every story written for a general audience contains some level of abstraction and generalization. That’s fine, appropriate, and necessary. It’s when doing so involves glossing over important caveats and nuances that you see problems — watch your typical tv news health story if you want an example. While noting that all I know is what I read in the story, that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

  90. DeliBoy says:


    From tfa:

    “Recent laboratory research has found that small amounts of medication have affected human embryonic kidney cells, human blood cells and human breast cancer cells. The cancer cells proliferated too quickly; the kidney cells grew too slowly; and the blood cells showed biological activity associated with inflammation.”

  91. CharlieSeattle says:

    No offense, but this article nor the article it links to, links to the original AP article. I would like to see that first.

  92. Anonymous says:

    isn’t there a difference in bottled water when it says ‘spring water’? I thought ‘bottled’ just meant tap water but ‘spring’ water actually had to be from a spring.

  93. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Maybe it’s the water that springs forth from the tap?

    Poison in the water!
    Poison in the air (the dust from your laser printer)!
    Dangerous radiation from your cell phone!!

    Only your faithful Republicanâ„¢ can save you!

    (Film at 11).

  94. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    And don’t forget the deadly Dihydrogen Monoxide.

  95. Ben Popken says:

    @CharlieSeattle: Incorrect. The article on Townhall is exactly the same as the original AP article. I’ve updated the link to go directly to the AP hosted story, simply because that’s better “style,” but the AP is a wire service and distributed copies of the article to other sites which reprinted it.

  96. mac-phisto says:

    @doctor_cos: the article also commented on that – evidently, the presence of these chemicals actually reduces our exposure to DHMO, an unintended positive side-effect. ;)

  97. Aphex242 says:

    I think a lot of you are being really cavalier about this though… particularly with regards to growth hormones and stuff. Even trace amounts of a lot of these drugs can have physiological effects.

    Researchers have long been wondering why asthma, for example, is way, way up in children over the past decade and a half or so.

    They may have their answer now.

    Bottom line: This stuff isn’t good for you. There can be (and probably are) unintended side effects in the population. This is new, and hasn’t been studied that fully. In the same way even trace amounts of lead are bad for the body, trace amounts of these drugs can and will have an effect, not only on people but on all kinds of species, like the minnows listed in the article.

    This could have some pretty serious long-term effects. I’m surprised, frankly, that I even have to bother to say all of this, but a lot of the comments made me want to.

  98. LibidinousSlut says:

    I don’t care if some of you are saying it’s alarmist. A study found the same thing in UK water systems a few years ago. And it just isn’t people who are being “stupid” and dumping their med’s in the toilet. Any meds you take are not 100% absorbed, so women on the pill are peeing out those estrogens, people on prozac etc. The real issue isn’t that there are trace amounts in the water, the issue is that there are probably trace amounts of several chemicals and that a. nobody knows how they’re interacting with each other in our bodies (because cross testing isn’t required or “possible” anyway), b. nobody knows what the affects of long term exposure to small amounts of these chemicals has on people and c. nobody knows how trace amounts of these chemicals interacts with medications you or other people may be taking.

    The reality is that our water treatment facilities aren’t up to part period. They also let pieces of plastic which manufacturers put in body scrubs etc float directly out to sea. Think about it, people are manufacturing things that when used as described pollute the world’s oceans. Manufacturers are faster than our government is and there are no laws to make sure the two keep up to speed.

  99. CharlieSeattle says:

    @Ben Popken: Yes I stand corrected, I didn’t see the link at the top of this article till now. Shows me for skimming and posting at 4am, shortly after I’ve just gotten up.

  100. @B: It was General Jack D. Ripper actually. :) Dr. Strangelove himself was just a hired gun but it was Gen. Ripper who was convinced fluoridation of water was a Commie plot to rob men of “Our Precious Essence”.

    That movie has one of the greatest throwaway jokes of all time by the way.

    General “Buck” Turgidson: Hmm… Strangelove? What kind of a name is that? That ain’t no Kraut name is it, Stainesey?
    Mr. Staines: He changed it when he became a citizen. Used to be Merkwürdigeliebe.

    (Merkwürdigeliebe being the direct translation of Strangelove.)

  101. rockergal says:

    @burgundyyears: Hey Art Bell is all that and then some.
    I hear news stories sometimes months or weeks before they break in the mainstream news.

  102. picshereplz says:

    Art Bell apologists on Consumerist… wow. Now I’ve seen it all.

  103. MissTic says:

    @klusta: LOL! me too. *hides*

  104. whydidnt says:

    Oh my god!! There are chemicals and drugs in our water, our food, our air! Medical care is awful and we can’t afford it. We don’t eat healthy, and don’t exercise enough. All of this is going to kill us!!!

    Oh wait, you say average life expectancy is longer now than it’s ever been? How could that possibly be true with all of these hazards waiting to strike us down at any minute.

    More scare-mongering reporting from your liberal friends in the media who know you won’t read what they say unless they scare the cr@p out of you!

  105. FMulder says:

    @Jackasimov: I commented on your let the market sort it out comment, and then spoke about the mass of the population who really doesn’t care about the environment, and yes these crackpots are dumping their medicines into the water supply.

    I also direct my comments to crackpots who think that a bit of pharmaceuticals in the water supply isn’t so bad, that it isn’t a crucial public health problem demanding a response from a sane population.

  106. rockogre says:

    I’m not worried, Uncle Sam is very concerned, seriously!


    Wait wait, does this apply to Poland Springs which does NOT come from the public water supply? That’s what I drink – what do you guys think?

  108. bluewyvern says:

    CAPT. JACK: I can taste it. Estrogen. Definitely estrogen. You take the pill, flush it away, and it enters the water cycle, feminizes the fish. Goes all the way up into the sky, then falls all the way back down onto me. Contraceptives in the rain. I love this planet. Still, at least I won’t get pregnant. Never doing that again.

  109. fuzzymuffins says:

    welp…. our civilization has pretty much altered EVERYTHING. we’ve transported plants and animals… as well as ourselves…. from all corners of the planet to the other, carrying non-native organisms, altering ecosystems, causing extinctions.

    every product we ‘man-make’ creates some kind of ‘waste’. electrical, elemental and biological. herding animals, burning fuels, building homes. human kind has been altering the planet since day one, and it will only become more evident. now genetic cloning and mutation takes this all to deeper level.

    “best part is”… there is really no way to prevent things like this. this is the kind of long term consequences that we ‘never thought about’, nor ‘could have thought’ of when this stuff was being made.

    just like the attack of the monster movie radioactive ants, they always say “we had no idea this would happen”.

    interesting to see that man-made chemistry can exist that long.

  110. greensmurf says:

    No wonder virus and cold germs are becoming resistant to anti-bodies its because we are ingesting the antiboiotics every day.
    I wouldnt complain much if they started putting Xanax in the water at least people would be less prone to start shit and be more mellow.
    OMG reminds me of the movie serenity and we all know what happened to the people on that planet.

  111. Mr. Gunn says:

    So let me ask some rhetorical questions:

    Could it be that the drugs which are the most poorly absorbed are the ones which end up at highest levels in the water supply? Wouldn’t they then be equally poorly absorbed from water?

    Considering that long-term build up requires fat-solubility, what would you expect to happen with these compounds?

    Could we maybe give the people whose job it is to study this stuff a chance to work out what the risk really is before going all “OMG THINK OF TEH CHILDREN!!1!”

  112. chc08 says:

    Do realize how much water you need to drink to ingest one pill’s worth of pharmaceuticals? More than you drink now, trust me. Imbibe in one Diet Coke and you’ve swallowed a much larger volume of interesting chemicals than you have to worry about from your tap water.
    I have friends doing their grad school research on this stuff, and talking with them, this article seems pretty sensationalist. The biggest concern are the environmental implications; the whole environmental estrogen issue in fish, etc.

  113. This is on the front page of CNN today in the top stories…

  114. Dervish says:

    @greensmurf: No, viruses and cold germs (which are themselves viruses) are resistant to antibiotics because they are viruses and not bacteria. Wow.

  115. Blueskylaw says:

    Thats all fine and swell, but can they tell me if peanut oil was used in my chinese food?

  116. Blueskylaw says:


  117. hwyengr says:

    I wasn’t that concerned with this at first, thinking that the concentrations were pretty low. But then I found out that the maximum allowable lead concentration in water is 15 ppb. That’s pretty low, too. And lead isn’t a synthesized material.

  118. Trai_Dep says:

    Heard on NPR’s Air Talk that the amounts are measurable in parts per trillion.
    One of the reps for LA Water did a good job of context, since we’re not wired to deal with numbers that large (small). To get one adult dose, you would have to drink the equivalent of twenty two Olympic-sized swimming pools of water. A day.

    So, while I think there should be an education effort to tell people to not dump their meds in the sink or toilet, I don’t think there’s much that reasonable people should do. The reporting on this seems a tad sensationalistic.

  119. nick_r says:

    Ah, great. More news you can use… to become a tinfoil-hatted whack job.

  120. Kounji says:

    Oh snap!!! They’re taking it seriously

  121. Kounji says:

    If anyone actually read the rest of the article. They would know that water filtration systems apparently aren’t good enough to take out all pharmaceuticals, and that would they are hypothesizing is that the drugs in many ways might be coming from our urine and excrement because not all of the drugs are absorbed into the body. This is very bad.

  122. larry_y says:

    What does this mean for homeopathy?

    Seriously, you can’t say it’s dangerous, but you can’t say it’s safe either, especially over long term exposure. What really needs to be addressed is the paradigm of “the solution to pollution is dilution”.

  123. Luddhunter says:

    The Scare-Hedge cycle is very rhythmic in this article. A few quotes, in order of appearance:

    SCARE1: “A vast array of pharmaceuticals…have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans.”

    HEDGE1: “To be sure, the concentrations of these pharmaceuticals are tiny, measured in quantities of parts per billion or trillion, far below the levels of a medical dose”

    SCARE2: “Water providers rarely disclose results of pharmaceutical screenings…”

    HEDGE2: “And while researchers do not yet understand the exact risks from decades of persistent exposure to random combinations of low levels of pharmaceuticals,…

    SCARE3: “…recent studies have found alarming effects on human cells and wildlife.”

    RE: Scare3: of HOW LOW of levels…are they comparable to those found in the study? The lack of comparison during a 5-MONTH study seems either incompetent or the results would inconveniently nullify the scare.

    The article has several more scares and hedges throughout.

    The goals of the Hedged Scare article are the same big three as most leftist media:

    1) Scare as much as possible
    2) Increase readership
    3) Make more government look like the best alternative

    Can I get an Amen?

  124. Rusted says:

    @ExecutorElassus: Fluoride is the only thing holding my teeth together. I not only drink fluoridated water but use a fluoridated rinse twice a day.

  125. Dervish says:

    @hwyengr: I’m not any kind of a doctor, so take this with a grain of salt, but I think the reason the limits for heavy metals (lead, arsenic, mercury, etc.) are so low is because they build up in the body and aren’t evacuated…through various means.

    I’m not saying that all the pharmaceuticals they’re identifying ARE evacuated, but a good deal of them likely are since they identify human waste as one of the sources of water contamination.

  126. riverstyxxx says:

    “Homer, the walls are melting again!”

  127. DownwardSpiral says:

    Well that must explain why I never really get any pains, infections, high cholesterol, asthma, epilepsy, mental illness or heart problems!

  128. nick_r says:

    @DownwardSpiral: Exactly… you know the next step is going to be that they report that all traces of pharmaceuticals have been removed from the water supply, followed by an immediate spike in disease rates in all major cities.

  129. Her Grace says:

    @JimmyDaGeek, BugMeNot2: Thank you.

  130. Her Grace says:

    @larry_y: If homeopathy were actual science, and the priciples it clings to were actually real (BIG “if”s there, then we should all be pretty pain-free and good to go. After all, the more you dilute, the stronger the dose, according to those quacks. One part per trillion acetomiophin should help my headache, right?

    I can’t work out an emphatic way to roll my eyes through the computer screen so it can be seen, but rest assured, I’m trying.

  131. Her Grace says:

    Wow, full of typos. I lose.

    Also, @Dervish: what do you think your kidneys are for?

  132. maztec says:

    Don’t Reverse Osmosis systems work for filtering this out? Thought I read that in the original AP article. Except most home reverse osmosis system are highly inefficient . . wasting 10-15gallons of water for every 3 gallons fully filtered… [which I don’t understand].

  133. chatterboxwriting says:

    @aphex242: Good point. I took growth hormone for two years due to short stature (I wasn’t just being vain – I was actually tested and they found that my pituitary was not producing HGH properly). I was 102 pounds when I started out and didn’t have any problems. Fast forward a few short years later and I had gained about 90 pounds and I have a TON of hormonal problems now – elevated testosterone levels (I am female), polycystic ovary syndrome, multiple cysts throughout my body (brain, ovarian, and breast), etc.

  134. mv0093 says:

    No longer thirsy…..I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

  135. Trai_Dep says:

    @Luddhunter: Good analysis of the article, not so smashing (IMO) of the conclusion. Why blame left/right when simple blind, irresponsible ambition on the part of writers and editors suffice?

  136. cynicalliberal says:

    So… Where did you think it all went after you pissed it out? This isn’t exactly knew, toxicologists have known this for years. We actually had a good laugh about it during my class.