[Pharmwaste] Senate panel considers study of drugs in water

Tenace, Laurie Laurie.Tenace at dep.state.fl.us
Wed May 13 10:09:13 EDT 2009


Senate panel considers study of drugs in water
By JEFF DONN - 18 hours ago 

A proposal in the U.S. Senate would require a government study of
pharmaceuticals and personal care products released by factories and other
sources into waterways that often supply drinking water.

"As a mom and a lawmaker, I assume our drinking water is clean and safe and
free of these kind of pharmaceuticals," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, the New
York Democrat who announced the proposal Tuesday in Washington.

Her measure would require a two-year study by the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency to identify the pharmaceuticals and personal care product
in waterways, their sources, and methods of controlling them. It would call
for the EPA to consider pharmaceuticals that enter the water stream from
human excretion, manufacturing and other sources. The pharmaceutical industry
would be consulted.

The House has already passed similar legislation.

The proposals were spurred by an Associated Press investigation reporting
trace pharmaceuticals in drinking water supplies of at least 51 million
Americans. In an ongoing series of articles that began last year, the AP has
reported that many pharmaceuticals - from antibiotics to psychiatric drugs to
sex hormones - have been found in waterways and drinking water supplies.
While many locales took action following the stories, most cities and water
providers still don't test for pharmaceutical contaminants.

The biggest source is considered to be human excretion. However,
manufacturers, including major drugmakers, have legally released at least 271
million pounds of pharmaceuticals into waterways over the past 20 years,
according to an AP analysis of federal data. An estimated 250 million pounds
of pharmaceuticals and contaminated packaging are thrown away each year by
hospitals and long-term care facilities.

Most water treatment facilities do not remove all drug contamination.

Drugmakers say they don't significantly contribute to the problem. Utilities
say the water is safe. And scientists and the EPA say there are no confirmed
human risks from consuming these minute concentrations of drugs.

However, research shows that the pharmaceuticals, especially when mixed
together, sometimes harm fish, frogs and other aquatic species. Also,
researchers report that human cells fail to grow normally in the laboratory
when exposed to trace concentrations of certain drugs. Some scientists are
concerned that the consumption of trace drugs, often in combination, could
harm humans over decades.

The news coverage has spurred hearings, testing and legislation across the
country. Gillibrand plans to put her proposal before the Senate Environment
and Public Works Committee on Thursday as an amendment to the Water Pollution
Control and Safe Drinking Water acts.

Laurie Tenace
Environmental Specialist
Waste Reduction Section
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
2600 Blair Stone Rd., MS 4555
Tallahassee FL 32399-2400
P: 850.245.8759
F: 850.245.8811
Laurie.Tenace at dep.state.fl.us 

Mercury: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/waste/categories/mercury/default.htm 

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