Meds-in-water back in spotlight with new data

September 11, 2008

NEW YORK — Recent tests of drinking water supplies, prompted by an Associated Press (AP) report in March that 41 million Americans receive drinking water tainted by trace levels of pharmaceuticals, reveal that the number of Americans affected by meds-in-water is at least 46 million, according to a September 10 AP report.

The original AP stories prompted federal and local legislative hearings, brought about calls for mandatory testing and disclosure, and led officials in at least 27 additional metropolitan areas to analyze their drinking water, the AP reported. Positive tests were reported in 17 areas, including Reno, NV; Savannah, GA; Colorado Springs, CO; and Huntsville, AL. Results are pending in three other areas.

The most recent test results, added to data disclosed by communities and water utilities for the March AP report, produce the new total of Americans known to be exposed to drinking water that contains trace levels of pharmaceutical compounds.

Boston, Phoenix and Seattle found no detections of pharmaceuticals in their drinking water supplies.

Cities that reported finding pharmaceuticals in their supplies detected substances similar to those found in other cities’ supplies and reported on in March. One such substance is the anti-convulsant carbamazepine.

According to AP, the overwhelming majority of US cities have not tested drinking water for pharmaceuticals. One of them, New York City, maintains that testing “is not warranted at this time.”

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