A study conducted by the Associated Press which found that numerous pharmaceutical drugs have contaminated the water supplies of millions of Americans has provoked nationwide alarm, causing consumers and experts alike to react with shock, but the true scale of the problem may not be fully realized.
"A five-month Associated Press investigation has determined that trace amounts of many of the pharmaceuticals we take to stay healthy are seeping into drinking water supplies, and a growing body of research indicates that this could harm humans," states the report.
At least 13 different medications, from antidepressants like prozac to sex hormones have been discovered in the drinking water of 41 million Americans, a number likely to be far higher considering the fact that all water districts were not tested and some went to great lengths to keep their results secret.
Consumers nationwide reacted with shock to the reports without realizing that they were already being mass-medicated against their will in many water districts by way of sodium fluoride being added to water supplies without their consent.
New revelations of pharmaceuticals in water will only increase pressure on water districts to remove sodium fluoride or potentially on the flip side, accelerate the drive to add it before consumers have a chance to say no.
This is all the more prescient considering the fact that a recent Scientific American report concluded that "Scientific attitudes toward fluoridation may be starting to shift" as new evidence emerges of the poison's link to disorders affecting teeth, bones, the brain and the thyroid gland, as well as lowering IQ.
The Philadelphia Water Department was flooded with calls from alarmed residents despite officials denying there was any risk, after the Associated Press revealed that traces of 56 pharmaceuticals or byproducts had been found in city drinking water.
New York City lawmakers were similarly disturbed by the new evidence, prompting questions as to why the problem was not divulged to the public earlier.
"This is very alarming," a member of the City Council's Committee on Environmental Protection, Peter Vallone of Queens, said. "Rather than sit back and be informed about this, New York City should have been proactive. I would hope we institute some sort of testing as soon as possible."
New York environmental organization Riverkeeper described the report as a "wake up call" and demanded that the government immediately "conduct a federally funded national study that provides risk assessments for pharmaceuticals in our waters, and measures the potential human and aquatic health effects."
In Pittsburgh, the story resonated with local experts who are concurrently studying the effects estrogen contamination is having on fish, where in some areas 85 per cent are found to be genderless.
Dr. Dan Volz from the University of Pittsburgh says the dumping of cleaning products and cosmetics down drains is contributing to the crisis.
Myron Arnowitt, state director of Clean Water Action, said, "We know that there is a problem in Pittsburgh, we don't have direct water evidence, but the fish are showing us something is wrong." Dr. Stanley States is the water quality manager of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, which serves 250,000 customers a day.
The Associated Press released more information from their study yesterday which confirmed that drug-contaminated water was having harmful effects on fish.
Responding to the Associated Press report, Sen. Barbara Boxer, who heads the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Sen. Frank Lautenberg, chairman of the Transportation, Safety, Infrastructure Security and Water Quality Subcommittee, promised oversight hearings to be held in April.
"Boxer, D-Calif., said she was "alarmed at the news" that pharmaceuticals are turning up in the nation's drinking water, while Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat who said he was "deeply concerned" by the AP findings, both represent states where pharmaceuticals had been detected in drinking water supplies, but not disclosed to the public," reports the Associated Press.
In addition, U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, D-Pa., has asked the EPA to form a a national task force and report back to Congress.
"Like many Pennsylvanians, I was especially taken aback by the finding of 56 different pharmaceuticals discovered in the drinking water for the City of Philadelphia. [...] The AP report raises serious questions about the safety and security of America's water system," wrote Schwartz to EPA administrator Stephen Johnson.
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