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.“
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.