As more and more people occupy the globe, the availability of water has become strained. Areas throughout the world—and around the United States—regularly struggle with this increased demand for water. This becomes even more of a problem in areas that have struggled with water demand issues for decades.
As a result of this increased demand, some “supplies are being augmented with treated wastewater for uses such as irrigation,” according to the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS). And this water supply augmentation comes with its own risks.
Recent studies by the USGS and others have found pharmaceuticals present in wastewater. This isn’t the first time studies have detected pharmaceuticals in water. Now, researchers and others are giving increased attention to the use of reclaimed water, according to the USGS.
A report by MSNBC citing an AP investigation stated that “a vast array of pharmaceuticals—including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones” were found in the drinking water of more than 40 million Americans. Thankfully, the concentration levels are small, but the fact that these chemicals were found raises many questions associated with short-term and long-term effects on those who use water contaminated with them.
Is there an answer? The solution probably lies in advocating several strategies. First, more stringent testing of water would help consumers know what is present in their water and how much of it is there.
Second, more research should be conducted into how to remove these chemicals from the water. Products like water filters and reverse osmosis systems should be tested to determine their effectiveness in removing pharmaceuticals from drinking water.
Finally, more research must be completed into the long-term effects on these chemicals in our water and what can be done to prevent disease or other illnesses because of their presence.