March 11, 2008--No standards to test, treat pharmaceuticals in water (Denver Post)

Just a century ago, this historic city notched by the Delaware and Schuylkill treated these rivers as public sewers, but few cared until the waters ran black with stinking filth that spread cholera and typhoid. Today, municipal drinking water is cleansed of germs — but not drugs. Traces of 56 human and veterinary pharmaceuticals or their byproducts — like the active ingredients in medicines for pain, infection, high cholesterol, asthma, epilepsy, mental illness and heart problems — have been detected in Philadelphia's drinking water. Starting their winding journey in medicine cabinets and feed bins, they are what's left of drugs excreted or discarded from homes and washed from farms upriver. Not so far. Tens of millions of Americans here and elsewhere drink water that has tested positive for minute concentrations of pharmaceuticals, and they don't even realize it. The Associated Press learned during a five-month investigation. Though U.S. waterways coast to coast are contaminated with residues of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, there's no national strategy to deal with them — no effective mandates to test, treat, limit or even advise the public. Benjamin H. Grumbles, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's assistant administrator for water, told the AP the agency recognizes that this contamination in water supplies is a growing concern and that government has some catching up to do.

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