By Marco Torres
Guest writer for Wake Up World
So-called safe drinking water supplies coming out of our household taps are now proven to contain industrial chemicals and pharmaceuticals linked to toxicity, developmental problems, tumour growth and hormonal disruptions. One glass of tap water now contains hundreds of contaminants that are not filtered through federally approved guidelines which monitor safety standards servicing millions of people.
Excreted and flushed through our sewage works and waterways, drug molecules are all around us. A recent analysis of freshwater streams in the United States detected an entire pharmacy of drugs: diabetic meds, muscle relaxants, opioids, antibiotics, antidepressants and more. Drugs have even been found in crops irrigated by treated waste water.
The chemical contaminants that infest city water supplies in industrialized nations are abundant, including fluoride (the only drug intentionally added to your drinking water), as well as chlorine, lead, mercury, arsenic and dozens of pharmaceuticals. Mitigating the problem of pharmaceuticals in drinking water has been an ongoing health issue for decades. The amounts that end up in your glass are minuscule, however, someone prescribed multiple drugs is more likely to experience side effects, and risks rise exponentially with each drug taken by a person over 65.
So could tiny doses of dozens of drugs have an impact on your health? “We don’t know what it means if you have a lifelong uptake of drugs at very low concentrations,” says Klaus Kummerer at the University of Luneburg, Germany. Anna Fels, a psychiatrist and professor at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, wrote in a New York Times op-ed that lithium, an antimanic drug that decreases abnormal brain activity, is present in varying levels in the water supply and “has been largely ignored for over half a century.” If you didn’t know, lithium was also included in early recipes of the soda 7Up.”These drugs have been individually approved, but we haven’t studied what it means when they’re together in the same soup,” says Mae Wu at the National Resources Defense Council, a US advocacy group.
“Besides pharmaceuticals, there are varieties of dioxins, insecticides, herbicides, pesticides, chemical additives and heavy metals, which when combined, create a toxic cocktail affecting every system in the body, even at extremely low concentrations,” said Clarke Brubaker, environmental toxicologist.
While there is a paucity of data on some of the contaminants, regulated chemicals such as atrazine, metolachlor, triclosan, and glyphosate (the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup) found in drinking water samples have been demonstrably linked to serious human and environmental health problems. Atrazine, for example, is used nationwide to kill broadleaf and grassy weeds, primarily in corn crops. It has been shown to be harmful to humans, mammals, and amphibians even when the amount used is less than the government allows. Atrazine is also associated with infertility, low birth weight, and abnormal infant development in humans. The chemical’s use is widespread, but for agriculture its use is concentrated in the Midwest farmbelt.
Levels of a widely used class of industrial chemicals linked with cancer and other health problems — polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) — exceed federally recommended safety levels in public drinking-water supplies.
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