Now We Have Drugs in Our Drinking Water


Last week I read about tests that had been done to check the levels of both prescribed and over-the-counter medications in the U.S. drinking water supply. Then today the Associated Press published a story describing the details. I would like to say I am shocked by this story, but unfortunately I am not. We should have long ago stopped believing when we toss something in the trash, let a chemical evaporate into the air, or flush our toilets, that we have seen the last of whatever it is we are throwing away.

It has been found that our bodies contain varying amounts of all kinds of chemicals that accumulate over years of exposure in the most common and mundane daily situations. A chemical used in gasoline today is present at surprising levels in the blood of most U.S. residents. I wrote an article in October of last year explaining why you should not use non-stick cookware. This story is just another example of how chemicals we think we protect ourselves from show up in our bodies.

According to water utilities cited in the AP report, the pharmaceutical chemicals in drinking water are present in amounts so small that no danger is present. I don’t know how the suppliers of our water can feel comfortable reaching this conclusion. There are many scientists that say we do not yet understand the health risks from many years of “persistent exposure to random combinations of low levels of pharmaceuticals”. Studies have indeed shown serious adverse affects on human cells and wildlife.

Bottled or purified water may not be drug-free either as the bottlers do not typically test for or filter out drugs. Once again, I hope our local water supply is somewhat safe from the latest contamination news. Our water comes from an underground spring high in the mountains. In the summer, some treated river water is mixed in some of our supply so there may be some exposure from that.

As it should be, this story will be on your radio and TV news. What will probably be missing is the concern I have every time I read a story like this. I don’t care if the issue is irradiation of meat, antibiotic treatment of dairy cows, genetically modified food, or the health hazard of Teflon, we have a right to know. I want publicity and labeling of my food. I don’t want some “expert” employed by the bottled water industry deciding I don’t need to know because the danger level is low. Safety is an important issue, but so is full disclosure.

Producers and distributors of food and consumer products have an ethical obligation, and should have a legal obligation, to fully disclose what is in those products. In this post, I say there should be closer scrutiny of the tact some companies take of hiding behind “trade secret” concerns. We should be able to have a system that forces disclosure, but protects a companies trade secrets. Unfortunately industry fights full disclosure for other reasons also. Sometimes there is a concern that if consumers knew the meat or dairy they were buying contained hormones and antibiotics, consumers might choose to buy different product. You don’t say!!?? Second, frequently there is an almost patronizing, “it is better if they don’t know”, attitude towards the public. I really object to this. And, in case you think I am overly concerned about this lack of disclosure, I leave you with the following right out of today’s AP article.

The head of a group representing major California water suppliers (when asked about non-disclosure of the drugs in water supplies), said the public “doesn’t know how to interpret the information and might be unduly alarmed”.

Well I am alarmed! I am very alarmed. I am alarmed about the pervasive, patronizing, attitude of some regulators, industry groups, and companies who think that for our own good, we need to be protected from disclosure. Are you alarmed? Tell me in a comment if I am off-base in my concern. Choose an answer in the poll so we can get a visual idea of what you all think about this. Thanks!


Should companies have to disclose everything that is in products they sell?

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Will Sig
1 Jackie

Scary! I hate to think of all those medicines in my water. I use a drinking water filter on my sink that takes those chemicals out, so I feel much more comfortable. You can review some of the top rated water filters at


2 Will

Hi Jackie – Since your site compares the different types of filters, maybe you know this: One of the articles I read said that a few filters tested do not remove the drugs from the water. The molecules are too small or something. The rest of the filters have not been tested to see if they remove the drugs. Do you have any information about that?


3 Abhinav Sood

The studies in your case say that small amounts of drugs present in water pose no serious threat! In many parts of India, you can see worms, snakes, stones, coagulated dirt-balls literally flowing in, through the municipality water taps. The areas adjacent to “nullah’s” have been tested to contain large amounts of drugs and dyes from industries and drains.

I have seen yellow-colored water in some areas of Delhi-The National Capital! Health, Soil and Environment & Water Supplies department really need to wake up before the worse happens!

I am going to email this post to some officials of these departments, maybe it acts as an eye-opener for them :-O !


4 Linda Prout

Not to add more cause for alarm, but once the drug is in the water, it is pretty hard to remove it’s consequences. The whole idea of homeopathic medicine is that the more you dilute the agent with water, the stronger it becomes. Simply “removing” the physical presence of a drug does not remove the vibration of the drug, which we now know can be as powerful as the drug itself.

The other thing I wonder about is why it is tranquilizers and hormones (and don’t forget the intentionally added fluoride, which also dulls the mind) found in our water. Wow, if I was a nasty politician who wanted the masses to cooperate during times of distress, this is the very combo I would choose.



5 Clever Elsie

It amazes me how the big pharma companies can justify this by claiming the public wouldn’t understand it. Which part exactly do they think we wouldn’t understand?

“You’re putting WHAT in my drinking water?”


“You’re putting drugs in my WHAT water?”


“You’re putting drugs in my drinking WHAT?”

They’re right, I suppose. I don’t understand why it’s legal for them to dump traces of pharmaceutical drugs into our drinking water. I don’t understand why they can’t install better filters, and I certainly don’t understand why their waste products empty into anything that could become a public water supply.



6 PW

This is a very useful article. Maybe this issue also exists here in the Philippines. Water suppliers must thoroughly check the water they supply us because of health risks.


7 Will

You know Abhinav, your comment makes me think again about how much better off we are than many countries. At least here a cities water is the same for both wealthy and poor. But I think we still need to insist on the highest standards so that countries like India that have areas with water like you describe can see the expectations that we have for safe food and water.


8 Will

Hi Elsie! I don’t think the companies are putting the drugs in the water. What happens are a few things. You take a medicine and pee it out into the toilet. It then makes its way to the environment and eventually into reservoirs.

Another disturbing thing I learned is that in Oregon there are two companies licensed to dispose of outdated medicines from hospitals and pharmacies. They also dispose of the drugs that law enforcement seize. I was told that there have to be two witnesses to the disposal to make sure it happens. I was then told that the way it is done is down the sewer! I can’t believe that until now, this was considered OK!


9 Joseph

Like Jackie said there are a few filters on the market that are certified for the removal of synthetic organic chemicals (SOCs) and volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). Most prescription and over the counter drugs fall under those catagories. Check them out

I hope you find this information useful. Until there’s some standard set for the removal of prescription and OTC drugs I guess it’s up to us to do it on an individual basis.


10 sky

Namaste’ Will! I feel the way you do, I just want to KNOW the TRUTH not hired paid truths, not square truths *made to fit* into the round holes type of truth. I want to be able to make as best of a right choice as I possibly can with the information. I honestly feel however that there is NOTHING left uncontaminated these days with poison of *some sort* in the food and water. I also think drugs have been dumped for eons.

Many toxins will carry via various ways and will get into water and food sources no matter, unless the whole world stops using toxic chemicals, to try and turn the mess around some way. Frustrating!!! *sigh*
see some interesting info here

The fact any drug companies are operating in such a fashion *shame on them!*, I feel like they are playing god for others.

I REALLY mistrust ANY company or hired talking head that says there is not any scientific *evidence* that such and such causes…blank and blank.

I read the obits every week and you cannot tell me all these young 30 yar old women and younger whom are dropping off like flies up here from various cancers,leaving behind babies and spouses and family members, who happen to live in a province where there is high chemical/toxin usage for farmers, is not to blame.

YET some of these toxins right after applying on a field if a deer walks through it it will drop dead!!! or on the containers it has all these hazards listed on how to handle HUH?



11 Michelle

Hi Will,

I posted about this same AP report a couple of days ago, too. It’s getting lots of publicity, and none too soon!

You said:
Second, frequently there is an almost patronizing, “it is better if they don’t know”, attitude towards the public. I really object to this. And, in case you think I am overly concerned about this lack of disclosure, I leave you with the following right out of today’s AP article.

The head of a group representing major California water suppliers (when asked about non-disclosure of the drugs in water supplies), said the public “doesn’t know how to interpret the information and might be unduly alarmed”.

Well I am alarmed! I am very alarmed.


I am alarmed, too! Everyone absolutely should be alarmed. There is altogether too much “you don’t need to know” and “you wouldn’t understand” and “don’t worry, we will protect you” coming from both industry and government, not to mention outright lies about the performance and safety of many products.

I DO need to know!
I WILL understand!
You AREN’T protecting me.

It is becoming harder to ignore or deny that there appear to be some serious ulterior motives for money, power, and/or control oozing from Big Pharma.


12 Will

Michelle – I agree with your:
I DO need to know!
I WILL understand!
You AREN’T protecting me.

To which I would just further tell them:

“Now stop with the patronizing, self-serving, platitudes, just admit the facts and let us respond as we each see fit.


13 Will

I think you are right, Sky, that toxins get into everything to some extent. But with all the evidence pointing to cumulative effects of different low levels of exposure, I want as much information as possible. Any way we can limit our exposure can only be a good thing.

The attitude of that water official that we are too uneducated, dumb, fragile, or whatever he was thinking, to handle full disclosure, makes me sick.

And thanks for the further information, Joseph. Using the correct filter if needed is a good example of how disclosure of information helps us. If I can know for sure my water supply has no toxins as the water company claims, then I know I don’t need a filter. If someone else lives in a city where there are synthetic organic chemicals in the water supply, then they can research and buy the filter they need to take them out.


14 Anna

Will, the scary part is everything around us involves chemicals. Some are non-volatile and some are. We try to design them so they don’t leak into the environment (but then recycling becomes an issue, and we need more chemicals to process them), and some we design so they go through the system very easily. The earth will absorb anything, but the earth is not smart enough to process them. Earth is like a filter at times, but it may filter the good stuff, take the good stuff, and let the bad stuff to be accumulated where we get to be exposed. Us, we breath chemicals, we eat chemicals (medications are the worst), we absorb chemicals, we dispose chemicals, and when time to go, our bodies are put into the ground full of chemicals. LOL but at times the water may have power to cure our headaches at times, due to leaked medications.

Will I read similar study long time ago, and I am fully aware of this. I try not to think about it, because usually my mind works on visualization. I try to visualize how things work in my body, so that is why most of the time I really will not eat meds, consume bad food, put crazy stuff on my body, get myself in trouble mixing cleaning products at home (did once, it wasn’t pleasant), lol, etc. But yes everything we do, the by products leak to the ground and eventually to our water system. The problem is that that filtration systems are only designed for certain chemicals, just like flu vaccines. So if we would have systems that would filter or neutralize absolutely every chemical in the water, it would be one expensive filtration system. I voted yes for disclosure of all chemicals, but then I don’t know if I would like to see it that much. Other thing to note, is that like you said, everything is harmful, but small levels and dosages included are not, but if you take the same thing all your life, and your body does not filter properly, then you can really accumulate high concentration levels of chem. stuff in your body, thus leading to further problems, and when you eventually die, you just full of it go to the ground, and you know what happens next. You know my cousin at age of 8 or 9, was diagnosed with Burkett lymphoma (he is okay now because was diagnosed in time), but when he got out from hospital, my aunt looked into some naturopathic stuff, and had him tested for various chemicals – they found higher than normal levels of arsenic in his body. We just don’t know if that was before or after the chemo. They are speculating that this may have been exposed in the residential area they lived, because next door they had few other with other cancers.

Looks like I am in the writing mode today. And on the end I just get confused, but I stick with the answer – our life style needs to be balanced, and we should be always aware what’s around us and consume what is necessary and not what extra stuff we need.

Thanks for listening Will, lol. Anna 🙂


15 Will

Does not sound confused to me at all, Anna. Thanks for the well thought out comment!

You know there is new research showing that visualization and thoughts have so much to do with healing and staying healthy. I know little about it, and wish I knew more. I just read a few days ago that some conventionally trained scientists who have been researching the area think that up to 75% of a treatments effect on cancer patients is a result of them believing it will work.


16 Bob

Excellent and informative post as usual Will, was totally surprised by the drugs in the water, but go figure I wasn’t when I learned the response about full disclosure, what a statement, that we may not know how to interpret the information, that is such a lame remark, disclosure is not dependant on whether or not someone can fully understand it, you disclose then we research.


17 Will

Thanks Bob! It is a lame remark, but a surprisingly widely held opinion of people in positions of influence. I plan to write more about the attitude in the future as it one that really gets me riled up!


18 Technology Slice

That is scary. Most people drink tap water without giving it a second thought. I wonder if they would keep drinking it if they knew exactly what was in it.


19 Michelle

Will, Anna, and all,

Visualization is an extremely powerful wellness practice, and is an integral part of practices like qigong (which I teach), taiji (tai-chi), and other Chinese Internal Arts….called Internal because they teach you to work with your qi (chi) or internal energy.

Of course, visualization and intention alone can produce profound results is maintaining health. Paying attention to your thoughts produces wellness or illness….

My website link goes to a short article of mine posted a while ago, “Your mind: the natural cure for what ails you.”


20 Anna

Thanks Michelle, will check it out. I did tai chi for many years, and sometimes when no time or not too much space around, I used to practice by visualization, it worked well. Thanks for sharing, Anna 🙂

Will you said you know very little about it. Try and you will find out it is not, remember to relax, it is fun. Anna 🙂


21 Swubird


I absolutely agree with you. I was a government regulator for most of my working life, and I was amazed by some of things industry got away with. One of the problems, of course, is that there simply aren’t enough people out there to do the job. Second is a lack of money. And third is the absence of political will. Thank goodness for strong sites like yours that help get the word out about these shortcomings.

Great post. Keep up the good work


22 Will

Thanks Michelle – That is a good article. I also liked your statement down below the article, in the comments: “The biggest mistake mankind ever made was to try to separate the mind and the body”.

Thanks for that compliment Swubird. It is very gratifying to have this viewed as a “strong” site. Sometimes I think I don’t get worked up enough to really bring things to light.

And thanks to everyone for all the comments. I am especially glad to see, in this thread and on a few other recent posts, that people leaving comments are talking to each other and not just to me. That is my goal with the comments here, conversations among all, not just directed to me. Thanks!



23 Anna

Will you are such a good host! Anna 🙂


24 Will

Ah shucks…….


25 Michelle

Will, Anna, and all, I’ve enjoyed the conversation, too. 🙂


26 Betty

That’s horrible…I thought pure water was the healthiest drinking. But now seems we have to be careful with everything we want to consume.


27 Medical Oddities

Companies should tell us everything we’re buying, right down to the chemicals. It’s scary to thing that we have no idea what is in everything we own and all those chemicals is probably causing serious issues in the LONG run.

Medical Odditiess last blog post..Liberty Medical Supplies


28 Elizabeth

This is an outrage, everyone deserves to know what they are drinking. I wonder how it can be regulated and better informed, because it’s really scary whats going on in this world.

ElizabethG the Great


29 Zach Johnson

I agree. We all need to be better informed. According to this resource, the quality of the drinking water in my neighborhood is below average.


30 anon emus

e coli outbreaks from contaminated food – wastewater crop irrigation, unsanitized farm help. life-threatening drug resistant bacterial outbreaks-look at all the cattle growers feeding in tiny, stinking lots, using cattle chow impregnated with tetracyclene or erythromycin. dba and other endocrine disruptors being released 15-55% faster into that bottled water when it gets hot on the truck or in your car. So why are we getting sick with resistant bacteria, cancer of breast and prostate, and contaminated food? duh.
organic foods
organic foods packaging-no plastics-use glass
the landfills are killing us.


31 Will

A few years ago I started using the Kerr and Ball canning jars to freeze food instead of plastic containers. I have only had a few crack and I am sure I overfilled those. Year after year of use and no chemicals from the plastic and no plastic in the landfill.


32 bertie

some years ago i let a campeign against a landfil site in the south west of england.
We won the first round because south west water – the organisation responsible for drinking water said it was too risky.
I left the group, the next application was granted – this time south west water did not put in a refusal – because it had been baught by the Kingfisher group – ahh, the king fisher group also happened to own the waste company.
Something like 7 companies were contacted to do the geological survey before the ‘right one’ was found.
This company estimated the leachate would reach the river (below the tip) through the gravel pipeline, on which the whole area sits, at the rate of 20,000 litres/day with a built in error of a factor of 10.(ie possibly 10 times as much)
This river flows into the river Exe – near Tiverton it is joined by the outflow from the Tiverton sewage works – apparently the dilution factor is so massive that it is insignificant.
Ohh finally the city of Exeter gets a lot of its drinking water from the upton pyne water works on the river exe.
here is a little taste of what some experts have said
The tip at broadpath – or hillhead – or uffculme as it is known – is used for industrial and household waste – the industrial waste i was informed was not dangerous and would be mainly sulphuric, nitric and hydrochloric acids (if i remember rightly mostly used in plating processes so would contain heavy metals)
Perhaps the question – should we let big business – hold our fate in their hands over these issues. Does the accumulation of wealth become a major factor?


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