Drugs In My Bottled Water Too


The recent revelation by The Associated Press that our tap water contains traces of pharmaceutical drugs, hormones and disinfectants elicited a bit of “I told you so!” from The Environmental Working Group when I spoke to them this morning.

Way back in 2005 they published a report, The National Assessment of Tap Water that found that:

Tap water in 42 states is contaminated with more than 140 unregulated chemicals that lack safety standards. In an analysis of more than 22 million tap water quality tests, EWG found that water suppliers across the U.S. detected 260 contaminants in water served to the public. One hundred forty-one (141) of these detected chemicals — more than half — are unregulated.

They posted an update on their report today with this comment from Jane Houlihan, EWG Vice President for Research

“Once again, the press is doing EPA‘s work when it comes to informing the public about contaminated tap water.“

Uh yay.

Actually this extends beyond The EPA’s purview which is only to supervise public drinking supplies. Bottled water, which as we have discovered over the past few years is frequently tap water in a bottle ( Pepsi’s Aquafina, Coke’s Dansani) actually has lower standards than tap water .

The FDA which supposedly regulates the production of bottled water also misses those scary drugs and also allows for some contamination by E. coli or fecal coliform. Yuck. If you thought you could get around this tap water issue by drinking bottled water. Think again.

For their part, the EPA has issued a set of recommendations on how to dispose of prescription drugs (i.e. toss them in your local landfill rather than in your local water supply). The FDA is strangely silent so far….probably waiting for consumers to make the connection.

In the meantime you can write to your Senator or Congressperson and complain, vociferously about oversight of our water supply. You can find information at the Environmental Working Group’s Take Action page.

About the Author

Hear Maryanne speak on Social Media for Socially Conscious Brands at Expo East on September 27th! Maryanne Conlin is CPG brand marketer and digital marketing expert, CEO of RedRopes Digital and Partner Digital Strategy, 4GreenPs. A Shorty Award winner for best Green Content on Twitter, she was a member of the IAA team that won the Green Award in 2010 and most recently was a finalist for the PRSA - Los Angeles PRISM awards for social media. She and her team focus on providing strategic marketing direction, custom content for web, mobile and social platforms, social media community management and online promotions and digital advertising solutions for companies in the green, food and Hispanic space. Follow her on Twitter @maryanneconlin
  • I heard heard about this some time ago in relation to the UK. I also heard that traces of hormones from contraceptive pill can be found in drinking water in many cities.

    Being from New Zealand I am living in the hope that we are still clean and green. But it’s only a matter of time before we poison our own supplies.

  • Pingback: Drugs In My Bottled Water Too « Water we drinking?()

  • Anthony J. Gerst

    mamma bird:

    Me bad, I was not referring to the fact that the estrogen effecting fish was in our drinking water. I was looking at water resources as a much broader issue than mentioned here.

  • Joseph

    Mamabird, refer to my previous post about filtering. Unfortunately you like myself worry about the health of our families and we were poorly mistaken if we thought the tap water which we all grew up drinking was safe. I kinda feel fooled in a way, like someone’s been pulling the wool over my eyes for so long.

  • Anthony J. Gerst

    Already many studies show where estorgen levels have altered the dynamics of fish populations. The result in an imbalnce of female fish.

  • Thanks for this. I guess my question is and has been, where can parents turn to in order to safeguard their kids’ drinking water? I was very concerned about the hormones in the water (like Anthony Gerst) until two scientists I contacted said, in essence, that the estrogenic effects on fish (hermaphroditism) are being seen in wastewater treatment (ie where you might swim), not water supplies. And of course, I’d read the NRDC and EWG data and was well aware that tap water’s not well regulated. But now with pharma-water everywhere in sight (tap, bottled, you name it), what can parents like me do? Does distilling actually remove pharmaceuticals? What about filtering? I’d love any concrete info you have. Appreciate the info.

  • Megan

    Thanks for sharing this – it’s something I was suspicious of anyway, but it’s good to see it getting coverage. I hate bottled water with a passion, and tap water tastes nasty, so I’ve taken to distilling my own water. I bought a water distiller and use it at home rather than buying distilled water in plastic bottles. The only downside is that it has to use energy to distill the water, but since we’re made of mostly water, having a clean, pure source is paramount.

  • Joseph

    Very interesting stuff. Rather than distilling your water you should look for a selective filtration system in order to keep your pH from being acidic and you’ll keep all your natural trace minerals in the water. Theres one certified system out there for the removal of prescription drugs in water and you can read more on their website: http://www.aquasana.com

    Also you can read more about the negative effects of bottled water not only on our bodies but on the eviornment as well at: http://www.bottledwaterblues.com

    I hope this information is helpful to you guys!