Pharmaceutical Drugs Found in DC Area Water Supply

Posted on: March 10th, 2008

As many people have already heard, The Associated Press (AP) just reported that it conducted an extensive 5-month investigation into the possible existence of various pharmaceutical drugs in the nation’s water supply. The study indicated that both tap water systems (where trace pharmaceutical compounds were found in 24 of 28 major water systems tested) and many of the nation’s watersheds (where 28 of 35 tested watersheds were found to contain some of these compounds) were contaminated.

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Is Purified Water the same as Tap Water?

If you watch TV or read the news, you just may think so. Couldn't be further from the truth. Purified Water is defined by the US Pharmacopeia as having less than 10 PPM (that's parts per million or milligrams/liter) of total dissolved solids (TDS). In order to achieve that level of purity, you have to use expensive purification technologies like reverse osmosis or distillation or deionization. There are very few municipalities that have invested in these kinds of technologies for two very simple reasons. First, it simply costs too much, and second, 99.5% of tap water is not being consumed by people - it's being used for all sorts of other valid purposes - like flushing your toilet, washing your clothes, showering, hosing off the driveway (that, by the way, is not a valid purpose in my book), washing dishes, etc.

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