Water is one of our Earth's most precious resources and in modern society it is uncommon to give our tap water a second thought. We assume it is clean, without bacteria, and good for you. It looks clear, doesn't smell or taste funny, it must be clean. Right? Well, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which is responsible for the cleanliness and purity of our drinking water, the municipal waters in the US are the cleanest in the world. Well if any of you have been to Mexico and accidentally got Montezuma's revenge from impure ice or tap water you know that the benchmark is not too high. In the wake of my praising article of virtually eliminating Lindane out of drinking water in California, we are now up against a larger, but not impossible, task of keeping our tap water safe for drinking.
It may well be that we have the cleanest tap water in the world but does that mean it shouldn't be cleaner? You undoubtedly have heard of the Associated Press' recent report on the finding of drugs; prescriptive and over the counter, in our drinking water. It affects, right now, the smallest of creatures who are the most sensitive of our ecosystem. Things like male fat-headed minnows are turning more female due to the sex hormones in the water. Antibiotics that were in treatment water sludge fed to cows then their manure is used to fertilize our vegetables where we then surprisingly find antibiotics in our corn, lettuce and potatoes. Vultures are developing kidney failure because of the medications in our waters that they drink. Mussels, snails, oysters, fish, birds, zooplankton, jellyfish are all being affected by our drinking water. Is it blind to think, as the EPA does, that our drinking water is safe for our use as well?
Should we wait until more research comes out before we take action for ourselves? Those in other countries will also want to know that similar studies in Pakistan, China, UK, Canada are finding shocking and depressing results. The key to prevention is awareness. Read up on the environmental impact of this on the health of other species and understand that because humans are at the top of the food chain it will take longer to see how these findings relate to human health. Don't wait the 5, 10 or 20 years it will take to further substantiate what we already know intuitively to be true. That medications that were not prescribed to you should not be ingested no matter how little if you expect to remain healthy. In this time of MRSA multi-antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria killing young and healthy persons, and the exponential incidence of autism it is clear that any governmental agency's rules will be too slow to change to keep up with the growing amounts of evidence that chemicals, drugs and environmental pollutants are affecting our health now.
Filter your water with a reverse osmosis filter
They run about $150-250 and if you're not handy you can get a plumber to install it for another $100 or so. Faucet filters and pitcher filters are not sufficient for drugs in your water so don't get that false sense of security that using a pitcher filter with a carbon filter will give you. Some reverse osmosis filters waste more water than others, try to find one that conserves more water.
Bottled Water Beware
Many bottled waters are just tap water put into a bottle so don't be fooled into thinking that you are safe from the contamination. Know that many 'spring' waters that come from underground springs and are not checked for contamination. If lakes and streams are getting small amounts of medication contamination you can assume that underground streams can as well.
Juice, Sodas, Coffee, Tea, Wine and Beer
If these are your primary sources of fluids, make sure that you know if the water used to make these are thoroughly filtered.
Don't Dump Your Unused Medications into the Toilet
You can't help eliminating the medication by products in your urine or bowel movements but to do your part, recycle unused medications by giving them to your local pharmacy so they can dispose of them correctly. Yes, what little you can do to help will go a long way toward keeping our environment safe. Read the EPA guidelines for safe medication disposal and the FAQs on their website for more information.
Tell Your Friends
Tell them what to do...filter, use clean bottled water, dispose properly. It's a start before your local government gets on the band wagon, you can help your community by starting now.
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