11 March 2008

Water Worries—How We're Drugging Other Species

People used to worry that water fluoridation programs were part of a Communist plot. Today, people have to worry about much more than fluoride in their water. Traces of analgesics, antidepressants, antibiotics, antihistamines, anti-hypertension drugs, anti-seizure medications, and birth control hormones are turning up in the Nation's municipally-delivered drinking water and also in our rivers, lakes, and streams. While many city water departments are aware of the problem, most of them aren't sharing that information with their customers. See this AP story for details.

Pharmaceutically-laced water isn't just a problem for humans. It's a problem for animals, particularly aquatic animals, as well. Here is an AP story highlighting the impact these pharmaceutical substances are having on aquatic and avian species. For example, exposure to these substances is negatively impacting the reproductive abilities of some fish species, threatening their extinction. According to the column, more than 100 different pharmaceutical compounds have turned up in surface water around the world. Closer to home, the AP story reports that:
fish collected in waterways near or in Chicago; West Chester, Pa.; Orlando; Dallas; and Phoenix have tested positive for an array of pharmaceuticals — analgesics, antibiotics, antidepressants, antihistamines, anti-hypertension drugs and anti-seizure medications.
When one eats these fish, one is not only being exposed to these substances from one's drinking supply, but also from one's food supply. Since it's a good idea to limit one's exposure to these substances, you might want to rethink eating fish. We already know that tuna is turning up with unsafe levels of mercury residues. Now, we're learning that other fish species have residues of the above array of pharmaceutical substances in their tissues.

Play it safe. Switch to a plant-based diet. You'll spare the fish, and you'll reduce your exposure to these unwanted pharmaceutical compounds.

Back to water. With drugs turning up in tap water, you might think that purchasing bottled water is a safer bet. But think again. Much of the bottled water available for purchase comes from municipal sources at a cost 100 times greater than tap water. Plus, all those plastic bottles are an environmental nightmare. More information on bottled water is available here.

It would be better for all if we could simply trust our local water departments to provide safe affordable drinking water with full disclosure of all contaminants contained therein. Here's an organization working to ensure the safety and affordability of our water supply.

Till then, you might want to switch to biodynamic organic wine. Cheers!

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