Friday, June 19, 2009

AP's Drugs in Water Report Spurs Action

On March 10, the Associated Press shared what its investigative team found over five months-- that trace quantities of various pharmaceuticals have been found in treated drinking water in 24 major metropolitan areas.

The press agency outlined the extent of the problem, noting that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not require testing for these contaminants and has not established limits for them in water. According to the AP article, EPA has analyzed 287 pharmaceuticals for possible regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act, but only nitroglycerin made the draft contaminant list.

The information in the article has made its way across the globe already and a few concerned individuals are calling for action and explaining what they know.

In Congress

U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (Pa.) called on EPA to establish a national taskforce to investigate the situation and make recommendations to Congress.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson, Schwartz said, "The Associated Press report raises serious questions about the safety and security of America's water system. I am especially concerned about the lack of information known on the potential for pharmaceuticals in the water to bio-accumulate in humans or potentially decrease the effectiveness of antibiotics or other life-saving medicines."

She requested a response from Johnson by April 1.

U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), chair of the Congressional Urban Caucus, also penned a letter to Johnson seeking information on the long-term impact of a "tainted water supply."

Sen. Frank R, Lautenberg (D-N.J.), chair of the Transportation Safety, Infrastructure Security and Water Quality Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said they will hold a hearing into the discovery of traces of pharmaceutical drugs in the water supplies of at least 41 million Americans.

The hearing will likely occur in early April.

The levels of pharmaceuticals found in the water are at levels measured in the parts per billion or trillion, far below levels of medical use. Scientists, however, are concerned that ingestion of these tiny amounts of drugs over a long period of time may pose health risks to the public.

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