Poor water quality? Not in my backyard!

AntibioticsCourtesy billaday
When we think of water quality, we generally assume that all is well in the United States. Sure, we have trace amounts of undesirable stuff here and there. But overall, you tend to be ok.

What about the rest of the world?

Well, recently Joakim Larsson, an environmental scientist from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, found that there is a particular area in India where you may want to think twice about drinking the water, or even bathing in it.

And why is this?

The water leaving the wastewater treatment facility wins the prize of having the highest known levels of pharmaceuticals in the world. As it turns out, almost 100 Indian drug companies dump their various drug residues into this particular stream. For example, ciproflozacin , an antibiotic, is dumped in this stream with high enough concentrations to treat 90,000 people a day.

But wait, aren't antibiotics good for you?

When you actually need them, yes, antibiotics are useful. However, if these antibiotics and floating around willy nilly, running into bacteria here and there in the environment, they are actually allowing the bacteria to become more antibiotic resistant with these casual encounters. As if making stronger bacteria were not enough, these various drugs are also damaging the reproductive systems of fish and amphibians in the water.

Where do we figure into this mess?

Although this is not water in the United States, we are involved in two ways. First, all water resources in the world are connected. There is no "our" water and "their" water. It is water that we all share. Secondly, many of the drugs made by these Indian companies are sold in the United States.

And so we are left with a question asked by Joakim Larsson, "Who has a responsibility for a polluted environment when the Third World produces drugs for our well being?"

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

iowaboy's picture
iowaboy says:

thankfully, water quality isn't a problem in america anymore.

and i'm aware of this is why people are told to send their expired medications to a pharmacy to be disposed of properly, instead of flushed down the toilet. because of what can happen to the water when it's disposed of this way.

posted on Wed, 02/04/2009 - 5:48pm
Julia's picture
Julia says:

Thank you for pointing out that expired medications should not be flushed! However, I would like to add that pharmaceuticals are still found in trace amounts in water supplies around the United States, due to improper disposal, such as the flushing or dumping of expired medications.

posted on Thu, 02/05/2009 - 2:46pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

It's not just the dumping or flushing of medications themselves. When you take a pill, some of the medication is absorbed by your body, but some of it gets filtered out and goes down the drain with each flush. Water treatment plants remove some of these chemicals, but not all.

A recent study showed trace amounts of many different medications--from antibiotics to anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers to sex hormones--in the water supplies of 24 major US metropolitan areas. Granted, the levels detected were well below therapeutic doses, but some 41 million Americans are being unwittingly exposed.

The government hasn't set any safety limits for drug levels in drinking water. But

"...while researchers do not yet understand the exact risks from decades of persistent exposure to random combinations of low levels of pharmaceuticals, recent studies - which have gone virtually unnoticed by the general public - have found alarming effects on human cells and wildlife.

'We recognize it is a growing concern and we're taking it very seriously,' said Benjamin H. Grumbles, assistant administrator for water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency."

posted on Thu, 02/05/2009 - 4:09pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

this is a very crazy discovery, but I am still interested in it because people get to learn new things everyday at this great muesum

posted on Thu, 02/05/2009 - 6:13pm
sam kast's picture
sam kast says:

why? why? why?! do we human children man andd women have such this littel brain about the planet the cildren have a better idea of our erath

posted on Fri, 02/06/2009 - 11:58am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Well don't just complain about the problem fix it. If youo just complain then you will nevver get the job done. If I were the person that put his on here I would be hitting myself right now.

posted on Fri, 02/06/2009 - 2:03pm
Marshall Martin's picture
Marshall Martin says:

Minnesota municpailites have done a good job implementing even/odd day watering restrictions.

They need to take it further though.

Municipalities should also create and enforce rules so that home owners don't waste water by watering the street or or watering lawns so much that the water runs into the street.

I have seen the village of Lakeville enforce infractions of the even/odd law. However, I frequently see folks waste much water through over watering.

posted on Sun, 02/08/2009 - 2:03pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I think people use too much water to brush their teeth. Because they leave the faucet on.

posted on Sat, 02/14/2009 - 2:18pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Hi i really think we could use less water in our lives i know that we need water to survive and all but we don't need to use so much just because we can look cool our enviornment cant handle us being cocky. We need help! At my house my parents really are big into recycling so we are always saving cans and glass and stuff that can be recycled. thanks for listening.

posted on Sat, 02/14/2009 - 2:33pm
jpbmerritt3's picture
jpbmerritt3 says:


posted on Sat, 02/14/2009 - 9:26pm
phajja's picture
phajja says:

do you waste water?
i am learning alot about water
on water quilty i just wanted to know
do you use hose to get leaves of driveway?

posted on Tue, 02/17/2009 - 2:08pm
iowaboy's picture
iowaboy says:

i thought this was an article about water QUALITY, instead of water CONSERVATION. both are important, but this one is still about the quality.

posted on Wed, 02/18/2009 - 12:38pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i think both are important because children could die without pure water or without water at all

posted on Fri, 02/20/2009 - 12:53pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

We really need to deal with this. People are being harmed short-term, and long-term, we are going to have a pandemic of medicine-resistant baceria if this keeps up. We are ALL at stake here!!!

posted on Sat, 02/28/2009 - 3:08pm

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