I was standing at the refrigerator door, pouring filtered water into my son’s sippy cup when a terrifying news story from a few weeks ago flashed through my head: “Pharmaceuticals Found in Tap Water” the headlines had screamed. According to the AP report: trace concentrations of heart medicine, infection fighters, estrogen, anti-convulsants, a mood stabilizer and a tranquilizer were found. And a study released by Medco Health Solutions Inc. reported that HALF of all insured Americans were on medications for chronic health conditions. Are you kidding me?
That’s an awful lot of chemically-laced poop and pee (as we say in my house) being flushed each year. For some reason when the story broke it didn’t hit home to me. I don’t live in a metropolis, but as I stood there with that sippy cup I realized I don’t want my son drinking birth control pills, no matter what the dosage level. And what if he had been exposed to this when he was an infant? It’s enough that I have to worry about wiping down the grocery cart or throwing out plastics that may contain BPA – but tranquilizers in my water supply? It’s hard enough being a parent. I should not have to worry about my child drinking a banana-strawberry-kiwi-estrogen shake as a snack. After raving around my kitchen I decided to see what, if anything, I could do about this.
- Here’s what I found:
- 1) The nice people at your local water company will actually answer your questions about the water supply – but – unless you live in a large metropolitan area, odds are that your water company does not test for these types of contaminants.
- 2) While it’s not perfect (there is water waste involved) reverse osmosis filters will remove pharmaceuticals from the water. Home systems range in price and the more expensive filters contain a UV light filter to kill the extra crud the filter can’t extract.
The sucky side to all of this is the waste water that’s created. A small percentage is deemed drinkable – the rest goes into your septic system, or city water supply. That kind of defeats the purpose in my mind because while it is keeping you and your family healthy, you just discharged bad things back out into the water supply. I’m not sure what the alternative is though. I mean, you don’t want to pour pill-laden water onto your houseplants or out in your yard – it will just leach back into the groundwater supply. Hopefully these chemicals will further break down as they are continually filtered.
Until there is a better option I think I’m going to add “reverse osmosis filter with UV light” to my annual birthday list (sexy huh?) and encourage everyone I know to pop less pills.
Image Credit: Greencolander on Flickr by Creative Commons License.