Even More Bad Things about Water

So, though previous posts didn’t have as much to do with current and breaking news, it both amused and frightened me this morning to read this article of recent studies into the trace amounts of pharmaceuticals in our drinking water.  Evidently the badness of water is on the rise, amusing me with the image of water-as-villain.  Also amusing me was the name of one of the men interviewed for the article: Benjamin Grumbles.

There are issues of legitimacy associated with the report, of course.  All the compilation of data was done by the Associated Press, with an angle to prove…something.  At least with the idea of supporting a story.  And what headline would break: Trace Amounts of Prescriptions in Water Found Harmless to Humans?  Still, I think the idea merits further review.  Could trace amounts of a wide variety of prescriptions be damaging to our long-term health?  Could these same trace amounts have a negative impact on wildlife, or come back to haunt us once they’ve completely penetrated our aquifers and surface water?  How long do these medicines remain in our system, and could they build up in higher organisms (i.e., do animals eating many plants with trace amounts build up a higher dose in their bodies, and what effect might this have?)  Also, if trace amounts are getting through our water purification system, are there ways to modify the system to eliminate these trace amounts?

Ultimately these are questions that need to be answered by a mostly impartial group of researchers.  Which brings us to other questions.  Who will research it?  What should be done?  And most important, who’s going to bankroll the whole thing?  Obviously not the pharmaceutical companies, and not the water treatment organizations (many of which refused to be tested for the article).  The government?  I would guess that ultimately, you and I will be paying, one way or another.

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2 Comments

  1. Alex said,

    March 10, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    I fittingly just got back from a talk by the Amazing Randi (www.randi.org), who is a professional skeptic. He pointed out that homeopathic medicine works by taking some compound and then diluting it to something on the order of parts per billion or trillion. So maybe you can take long-term homeopathic medicine users and see what the effects (or lack of effects) are.

  2. March 11, 2008 at 8:26 am

    […] 11, 2008 at 8:26 am (Uncategorized) Tags: livestock, news, produce, wildlife A day after the Associated Press came out with their findings on pharmaceuticals in our drinking water, more […]


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