Pharmaceutical drugs found in drinking water

March 10, 2008 10:30:18 AM PDT
More than 41-million Americans may be taking prescription drugs every day without realizing it.A new study by the Associated Press found trace amounts of pharmaceuticals in major water supplies, including in the tri-state area.

Eyewitness News reporter Lisa Colagrossi is in Lower Manhattan with the story.

This was an extensive investigation by the AP that took months of study. They found traces of pharmaceuticals in the water systems of 24 major metropolitan areas including right here in the tri-state area.

What's in your tap water? According to the Associated Press, measurable amounts of prescription drugs. Humans consume them and excrete them, but sewage treatment plants don't remove the drugs before the water flows back in to lakes, rivers and reservoirs.

"New York City says it doesn't test," says Rick Pienciak, AP Investigative Unit editor. "And it's hard to say. We know from studies elsewhere, the treatment systems are not designed to take out all the pharmaceuticals, and generally let some pharmaceuticals pass right through."

Right now there is no evidence that the drugs pose a health risk, but so much is unknown.

AP reporter Jeff Donn says, "The concern on a long-range basis is how much of this are we taking in every day of our lives? And after forty or fifty years, is there some profound long-term effect on our health?"

In New York City, the AP study found minute amounts of fifteen drugs, including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and more.

Marjorie Powell, an attorney for the pharmaceutical industry, said Monday that "No studies have demonstrated any effects on human health."

However, both the pharmaceutical industry and the Environmental Protection Agency are supporting further study.