What’s In Your Drinking Water?
Many of us are thinking about the foods we eat. Gluten-free, non-GMO, vegetarian, meat that is antibiotic and steroid-free. I have always felt lucky to live in a country where clean water is freely-accessible and relatively inexpensive. At church, we talk about helping people in Africa gain access to water that is clean and hopefully close to where they live. We encourage the kids in church school to contribute their dimes and quarters so that wells can be dug in villages. Lives are changed when the people there can drink, bathe, and wash their dishes and clothing in clean water.
But I recently read an article in the paper about what is actually in our “clean” tap water in this country. This piece was about testing done on bull sharks that live in the Caloosahatchee River, which is a tributary that flows into the Gulf of Mexico in Ft. Myers, Florida. I live north of there, and so the tap water that I use is not from this river, but I think that this is timely information for us all to consider.
Pharmaceuticals such as birth control pills, steroids, antidepressants, and pain relievers were all found in the tissues of these sharks. Not only have people been flushing their medications down the toilet, 90% of oral drugs can pass through humans unchanged. So the urine and feces that we humans excrete contain these drugs. Because these pharmaceuticals are water soluble, they don’t bind with or stick to anything, so waste-water treatment plants are not able to filter them out like they do with substances like heavy metals such as lead. While the water utilities are required by the EPA to meet certain safety standards, it is generally cost-prohibitive for utilities to use contaminate removal systems such as nanofiltration, long contact activated carbon, or reverse osmosis.
So far, only New Jersey now has a law prohibiting nursing homes and hospitals from releasing any pharmaceuticals into water. There are some organizations that are trying to do the right thing on their own. I previously wrote a blog for the Excell website on how to dispose of your unwanted and expired medication. If you are not sure, check with your pharmacist. Many pharmacies have a program for people to bring in these medicines or to mail them to a disposal company. Do your part—do not dispose of medicines in the trash or in our water supply.
Another concern is that contaminants in personal care products and pesticides are also finding their way into our water supplies. These substances are often referred to as “endocrine disrupting chemicals”. This means that these chemicals can alter our hormone systems. They are sometimes the culprits causing learning disabilities, attention deficit problems, limb deformations, and breast, prostate, and thyroid cancers. Please try to limit or end your use of fertilizers and pesticides, as they can run off into ground water and end up in our water supplies.
What can you do? If you are able, install a filtration system in your home. Bottled water may be safer, but you have to know if it has been tested for pollutants. Also, you don’t want to be drinking water that has been contained in plastic containing BPA, which has been linked to breast cancer and other health problems.
Another way to help solve our water pollution problems is to vote for someone who is truly committed to keeping our water chemical and drug free. The hard part here is finding someone who doesn’t say one thing and actually do another when it comes to legislative decisions and overseeing government agencies!
It’s important to have truly clean water for ourselves and our families. Our future generations depend on it!
Blessings to you,