Prescription drugs showing up in drinking water along East Coast of USA

By: J. D. Heyes

While their amounts might seem miniscule, the effects of drugs,  chemicals and other undesirable elements that you drink every day when you grab  a glass of tap water can take their toll over time.
That’s according to  several experts who have addressed the issue of pollutants in our ground water  for decades. One of the latest to do so was Dr. Jim Erban, director of the Tufts  Cancer Center. According to a recent story in WickedLocal, a Cape  Cod-area newspaper:
Tired of hearing about wastewater, runoff,  fertilizers and nutrient pollution of the ground water? Well, there are nearly  undetectable and untreated chemicals in the groundwater to worry about as well:  drugs used and unused, pesticides, fire retardants, artificial hormones,  caffeine, insect repellants, antibiotics, and more – it’ll all show up again  when we turn on the faucet or take a swim.
‘The best example is the  drug DES’
While the amounts may be small, almost immeasurable at  parts per trillion, if you’re imbibing on a daily basis, decade after decade,  the exposure adds up, according to researchers who spoke in Hyannis
[recently].
“The best example is the drug DES,” Erban told a  local crowd Oct. 2, “which was used until 1971 to prevent premature labor. Women  would take it for several months before birth. Were it not for the fact a very  rare cancer appeared decades later we would not have known low levels of  exposure could cause cancer. And there is some evidence the daughters of these  women have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer, 40 years later, a two  month exposure to the drug.”
Erban made his comments at a research update  sponsored by the Silent Spring Institute, a non-profit research center founded  in 1991. The institute’s founding members wanted science to look beyond current  treatments and seek out preventable causes of breast cancer in women, since the  breast cancer rate in the Cape Cod region is 20 percent higher than the national  average. Because of that higher percentage, the institute of late has turned its  focus to ground water  contaminants as a possible cause.
“Breast cancer studies suggest 20 to 25  percent is genetics and the rest is environmental causes. It’s the things we do  eating, exercising, what we’re exposed to,” Erban said.
For a number of  years, breast cancer cases increased across the U.S. before finally leveling off  at the current rate of about 200,000-250,000 per year. Currently, China is  experiencing a similar rise in breast cancer cases – at a time when the country  is undergoing major industrialization and dealing with unprecedented levels of  pollutants tied to economic growth.
“So it’s a problem of affluence and  environmental exposure,” Erban noted.
The institute has refined its  research techniques over the past 20 years, noted Dr. Laurel  Schaider.
Drugs in the water, unfortunately, nothing  new
“Our analytical techniques are getting better and we’re getting a  handle on chemicals and where they are in the water,” she explained. “These  chemicals are not regulated and there is no set list. Alot [sic] of our  research is on endocrine disruptors; examples would be bisphenol A (used in  plastic bottles), DDT, PCBs, PBDE (a flame retardant). There’s concern low  levels of endocrine disruptors cause effects you don’t see when you study higher  levels.”
Mike Adams, the Health Ranger and editor of Natural News,  has been reporting on the occurrence of prescription medications in our drinking  water for nearly a decade.
In a 2004 piece, he cited an English study  which “looked at 12 pharmaceuticals thought to pose an environmental threat,  including painkillers, antibiotics, and antidepressants, and it found traces of  these pharmaceuticals in both sewage waters and drinking water. It also found  traces in the rivers downstream from the sewage treatment plants” [http://www.naturalnews.com]. (NaturalNews)