Experts Unfazed by Drugs in Ontario Water
You know all those painkillers, prescription drugs and antibiotics we all take throughout the year? Turns out we're getting some of it back in the same water we're drinking.
So far no one seems very concerned, nor are there any plans to deal with the drugs as they are considered to be in such small quantities.
Painkillers and other drugs that are flushed down toilets will inevitably pour out of household taps in trace amounts around the world, a University of Toronto expert says.
Civil engineer Ron Hofmann, who specializes in drinking-water toxins, says a recent report finding painkillers, antibiotics and cholesterol-lowering drugs in the water coming from 15 southern Ontario treatment plants was "not surprising at all" to people in the field.
"There's a raft of studies that show these (drugs) are coming through the waste water treatment plants." he said.
Hofmann said the drugs enter the water supply when people pass trace amounts of unmetabolized medications through their urine, or throw unused pills down the sink or toilet.
"They make their way through to the waste water treatment plants and out into the environment. And once they're there, they eventually will make it into the tap water."
Low concentrations of pharmaceutical drugs were found in drinking water across 15 southern Ontario cities, but the risk is "minimal," researchers say.
The study found that trace levels of eight drugs including Ibuprofen, cholesterol-lowering drugs and anti-inflammatories like Naproxen, along with cardiac drugs, and a common household antibacterial agent triclosan, were found in surface water exposed to sewage treatment.
"We cannot say there is no risk, but these are very low concentrations of compounds in common use. It represents a minimal amount of risk," said lead author Dr. Mark Servos, a University of Waterloo researcher.
Traces of 56 human and veterinary pharmaceuticals or their byproducts — like the active ingredients in medicines for pain, infection, high cholesterol, asthma, epilepsy, mental illness and heart problems — have been detected in Philadelphia’s drinking water. Starting their winding journey in medicine cabinets and feed bins, they are what’s left of drugs excreted or discarded from homes and washed from farms upriver.