[Pharmwaste] Some major US cities to test for drugs (in drinking water), others won't

DeBiasi,Deborah dldebiasi at deq.virginia.gov
Thu Mar 27 17:22:46 EDT 2008


Some major US cities to test for drugs, others won't 

NEW YORK - In the wake of news recently reported by the Associated Press
that trace levels of pharmaceuticals have been detected in the drinking
water supplies of 24 major metropolitan areas, some large cities are
choosing to test their supplies while others have decided not to because
interpreting results is difficult.

Today's technology, while better at detecting contaminants in water
supplies, also leaves experts guessing at the significance of their
findings. To address this, the writers for The Wall Street Journal
interviewed George Corcoran, Wayne State University professor and
president of the Society of Toxicology, in a March 19 WSJ Health Blog.

"As we get more and more sophisticated measurement instruments we can
now measure concentrations of things that we could never dream of
measuring 10 years ago. We would have said they were zero. These are
parts per billion," Corcoran said in the interview. "But I'm a prudent
man and I think these kinds of decisions require a base of evidence.
Quite honestly that base of evidence doesn't exist today. Personally, I
think it's likely that they're not harmful at their current
concentrations, and I drink water freely from the Detroit public water
supply without concern for myself or my family."

Yet, some cities are not satisfied with that approach and are moving
forward with plans to test for pharmaceuticals in their water supply. In
North Dakota's largest city, Fargo, testing is set to begin this month,
according to a March 24 Associated Press report that ran in The Bismarck

"What we decided to do was [sample] our two source waters, the Red and
Sheyenne rivers, as well as treated drinking water coming out of the
water treatment plant, that we're putting out to our customers," Bruce
Grubb, Fargo Enterprise Director, said in the story.

The city has hired a University of Iowa lab to do the testing, said the

Other major US metropolitan areas, such as Phoenix and Scottsdale, AZ,
also have announced their intent to test their water for emerging
contaminants such as pharmaceuticals, according to a March 14 article in
The Arizona Republic.

Officials from Phoenix said they are still trying to determine testing
procedures and how to react to results.

To read the full article on Fargo's testing, click here.

To read the WSJ interview with George Corcoran, click here.

To read The Arizona Republic story, click here.

For related information on this story, click here.

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Deborah L. DeBiasi
Email:   dldebiasi at deq.virginia.gov
WEB site address:  www.deq.virginia.gov
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
Office of Water Permit Programs
Industrial Pretreatment/Toxics Management Program
PPCPs, EDCs, and Microconstituents
Mail:          P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA  23218 (NEW!)
Location:  629 E. Main Street, Richmond, VA  23219
PH:         804-698-4028
FAX:      804-698-4032

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