February 8, 2010 at 2:28 pm Comment (1)
Concerns about the safety of drugs found in drinking water are finally getting the attention of the Environmental Protection Agency. For the first time the organization has listed some pharmaceuticals as candidates for regulation in drinking water. The agency has also launched a survey to check for several drugs at water treatment plants across the country. The FDA has updated its list of waste drugs that ought to be flushed down the toilet but also made a clear goal of working toward the return of all unused medicines. The National Toxicology Program is conducting research to clarify how human health may be being affected by drugs at low environmental levels.
The drinking water of at least 51 million Americans contains small traces of a wide variety of drugs according to a AP report last year. Water utility companies who responded to the AP acknowledged the presence of antibiotics, sedatives, sex hormones and dozens of other drugs in their supplies. The report began steps toward congressional hearings and legislation, more water testing and more disclosure of test results from many sources.
The EPA’s new study will evaluate the levels of 200 chemical and microbial contaminants at 50 plants that treat drinking water among them 125 pharmaceuticals and related chemicals. This is intended to help establish if regulations are needed. The EPA has already put 13 pharmaceuticals on what it calls the Contaminant Candidate List. These are mostly sex hormones, but they also include the antibiotic erythromycin and three chemicals used as drugs but which are better known for other uses.
Many scientists who work within and outside of governmental offices tie this change to the growing list of positive changes made under the Obama administration and with the appointment of Lisa Jackson over the EPA. While it could be a long path to real regulations it’s a step that seems a drastic change from even last year when only one drug was under consideration for such regulation.
October 1, 2009 at 10:51 pm Comments (0)
Over 100 wells in Morrison, Wisconsin are polluted thanks to uncontrolled runoff from dairy farms leaving residents ill and dealing with symptoms like chronic diarrhea, severe ear infections and stomach illnesses. Water there was tested and found to have been contaminated with things like E.coli and coliform bacteria among other contaminants more commonly found in cow manure.
How did this happen?
There are few regulations that make efforts to control things like this. While there are laws that were made to protect and regulate water and wastes that pass through ditches and pipes the same can’t be said for above ground wastes like manure which is sometimes used for fertilizer on farms. Larger cattle farms are meant to be regulated (the EPA has made laws to help regulate them) however most farms don’t bother to fill out paperwork that makes the EPA aware of them. To make matters worse laws passed by the Bush administration allow many of these farms to self-certify their lack of pollution making it easier to bypass any regulation that might prove otherwise.
Agricultural runoff is the greatest pollutant of U.S. streams and rivers, sickening at least 19.5 million Americans every year. Parasites, bacteria and viruses travel in these waters coming from animal and human wastes pumped into them from various sources throughout the nation. The problem has only recently gotten much focus, inspiring a major article from the New York Times last week.
New York Health Screening
September 27, 2009 at 10:43 pm Comments (0)
Some rather frightening news has come to light about older shower heads and it isn’t pretty.
Apparently bacteria grows inside the head and the space inside is a great place for it to develop and grow, getting worse. When researchers tested the germ levels of the gunk that sits inside the head and the water both before and after it went through it they found that the levels of Mycobacterium avium was at least 100 fold higher than any other bacteria in the water. While there isn’t much known about the microorganism it does pose a threat to patients with illnesses that affect the immune system such as AIDS and lung diseases like emphysema.
One of the larger concerns is that many of these microorganisms (along with pathogens and microbes) are small enough to be breathed in, an issue that becomes twice as worrisome when you consider that the shower makes them aerosolized making it even easier for them to get into the body as we shower.
Researchers suggest that if you’re concerned about these contaminants you should take down your showerhead and look for higher levels of grit and grime. If you find that there’s a lot then it’s a wise idea to buy and install a new head. While healthy people aren’t likely to developed problems, those with lung and immune diseases should skip showers all together taking baths instead. The study was conducted in an effort to see what household factors could be affecting the health of those that lived there.
September 22, 2009 at 1:06 am Comments (0)
Residents in Charleston, WV avoid using their water for a reason. With high rates of arsenic, nickel, manganese, lead, and barium among other heavy metals and chemicals in the water they already face painful rashes, scabbing, burning skin and even advanced tooth decay from bathing alone. That’s not the worst news, the high levels of these metals and chemicals in the water could also be responsible for higher rates of cancer as well as nervous system and kidney damage over time. Where did all of these contaminants come from?
Apparently nearby coal companies have been knowingly putting illegal levels of these same chemicals and metals into the ground and therefore contaminating the water of the surrounding area without being warned much less fined for the infraction. West Virginia is only one of several states who have had similar incidents in recent years and neither the states or the EPA have done much to punish the offenders according to research referred to in a recent article in the New York Times.
Because many of these chemicals are invisible and scentless (Unlike the much more obvious ones polluting waterways in the 70’s which caused the EPA to pass the Clear Water Act in the first place.) many aren’t aware of their presence in the water supply until the negative health effects begin to become clear.
What can be done to hold these companies and the EPA responsible for failing to follow these laws? The government will have to censure those responsible and do extensive testing to verify how much of these contaminants are present and how much damage has been done since the neglect first began. But how likely is it that this will this occur?
New York Health Screening