Today’s Associated Press story on drugs in drinking water sources points the finger at manufacturers who may be taking advantage of regulatory loopholes and dumping drugs right into drinking water sources. This is certainly interesting information in light of last year’s AP report and continuing interest in the presence of pharmaceuticals, personal care products and other “emerging contaminants” in drinking water sources and even finished tap water. It might also explain why these contaminants show up more in some places than others, even though their use in our society appears reasonably even around the country.
While some experts quoted seemed to want to point the finger back at the consumer - for either flushing drugs down the toilet or excreting them - the possibility that some high-volume dumping is going on is one that needs to be pursued aggressively. Take-back programs and improved monitoring and treatment at our drinking water and wastewater treatment plants have their place, but any chance we have for true pollution prevention is a chance we should take. Last year, Clean Water Action’s own David Pringle testified before Congress about how and why.