Millions of Americans are consuming minute concentrations of pharmaceuticals that are flushed down the drain each year by hospitals, an Associated Press investigation reveals.
The journalists raise concerns that our drinking water is increasingly being contaminated by chemicals that – even in trace amounts – have been shown to cause health problems in animals and in human cells.
Wastewater tests carried out in various European countries and within the U.S. have revealed quantities of hormones, antibiotics, pain relievers and other medicines, the AP states.
And some tests have linked drugs in the water supply to gene mutations that could potentially lead to cancer. For example, a Swiss study found that one antibiotic could disfigure bacterial DNA, though the significance of this discovery for human health is still unclear.
Pharmacist Boris Jolibois, who has participated in research on the issue, told the AP that hospitals should take action as soon as possible regarding their waste disposal.
"Something should be done now. It’s just common sense," he remarked.
Drug disposal in landfills or in incinerators are two options that are raised by the AP, though there are arguments against each of these methods as well.
The Water Quality Association suggests that home filtering systems could help consumers remove some of these contaminants from their drinking water.