Recently, an AP news story came out about the traces of pharmaceuticals, including sex hormones and antibiotics, found in 41 million people’s drinking water in the U.S. The traces are teeny tiny and probably aren’t much to worry about. It’s not that people are dumping medicine directly into the water in large amounts, but a body absorbs only so much. What isn’t absorbed goes into the toilet and on out into the water supply. That’s the watered down version of what occurs. All those hormones and antibiotics animals are given are also part of the mixture.
The pharmaceuticals could become more of a concern because there aren’t regulations about how water is treated in order to get rid of the traces of such ingredients. It seems to me that if people are taking more and more medicine for whatever ails them so wouldn’t that have an increase? On the other hand, if what people are taking more of is anti-anxiety medication, maybe we’ll all be a little more relaxed and problems like road rage with go down. If it’s sleeping pills though, accidents could go up. (I’m just musing here. Don’t take me seriously.)
New York City is one of the places where the traces have been found. Leave it to David Letterman to come up with a funny combination of two New York stories. Last night, pairing Eliot Spitzer’s recent woes which have caused him to resign as governor of New York with New York City water quality, Letterman talked about what has showed up in the water and showed a picture of Elliot Spitzer with an announcer’s voice over that said, in reference to the water, “The fuel that keeps the Spitzer Spitzin.” Letterman was pretty pleased with himself.
Boil your water at a rolling boil for at least five minutes was the adage of the Peace Corps nurse in The Gambia. I’d guestimate on most occasions since day after day it was hard to remember to check when water actually started to boil, and how much time had passed after it did. For the most part, I was faithful about my drinking water and only strayed a couple of times from a clean source. When I couldn’t boil it because I was on a cargo boat heading to Timbucktu for four days, and the bottled water we took with us ran out, dumping iodine tablets into Niger River water was the only option. It worked. I guess.
Joan Peterson, author of “Eat Smart” guides says that not drinking tap water is the #1 key to keeping your stomach happy with you. She probably would cringe at the river water story.
I’ve heard before that it’s not the water at the source that’s necessarily bad, it’s that the pipes it passes through may not be in such good shape. Or, the water passes too close to sewage so the water picks up bacteria along the way. That’s what I’ve heard. I have no idea if this is actually true.
Regardless, Peterson says to drink only bottled water and avoid ice-cubes. (It was interesting to me that in the recent Academy award nominated movie, Babel, Cate Blanchett’s character looked uptight and not an easy-going traveler like Brad Pitt ‘s character because she chastised him for using ice when they were traveling through Morocco.)
Peterson also says to use bottled water for brushing teeth.
Like I said, I’m with Peterson if you can manage it, and I dump out ice. Here is a fact sheet from the Cornell Cooperative Extension, College of Human Ecology on how to treat water.