The following is a transcript of the AP story on water found in the media this week:
By JEFF DONN, MARTHA MENDOZA and JUSTIN PRITCHARD - Associated Press Writers
A vast array of pharmaceuticals _ including antibiotics, anti-convulsants,
mood stabilizers and sex hormones _ have been found in the drinking water
supplies of at least 41 million Americans, an Associated Press investigation
To be sure, the concentrations of these pharmaceuticals are tiny, measured
in quantities of parts per billion or trillion, far below the levels of a
medical dose. Also, utilities insist their water is safe.
But the presence of so many prescription drugs _ and over-the-counter
medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen _ in so much of our drinking
water is heightening worries among scientists of long-term consequences to
In the course of a five-month inquiry, the AP discovered that drugs have
been detected in the drinking water supplies of 24 major metropolitan areas
_ from Southern California to Northern New Jersey, from Detroit to
Water providers rarely disclose results of pharmaceutical screenings, unless
pressed, the AP found. For example, the head of a group representing major
California suppliers said the public "doesn't know how to interpret the
information" and might be unduly alarmed.
How do the drugs get into the water?
People take pills. Their bodies absorb some of the medication, but the rest
of it passes through and is flushed down the toilet. The wastewater is
treated before it is discharged into reservoirs, rivers or lakes. Then, some
of the water is cleansed again at drinking water treatment plants and piped
to consumers. But most treatments do not remove all drug residue.
And 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.
Members of the AP National Investigative Team reviewed hundreds of
scientific reports, analyzed federal drinking water databases, visited
environmental study sites and treatment plants and interviewed more than 230
officials, academics and scientists. They also surveyed the nation's 50
largest cities and a dozen other major water providers, as well as smaller
community water providers in all 50 states.
Here are some of the key test results obtained by the AP:
_Officials in Philadelphia said testing there discovered 56 pharmaceuticals
or byproducts in treated drinking water, including medicines for pain,
infection, high cholesterol, asthma, epilepsy, mental illness and heart
problems. Sixty-three pharmaceuticals or byproducts were found in the city's
watersheds._Anti-epileptic and anti-anxiety medications were detected in a
portion of the treated drinking water for 18.5 million people in Southern
_Researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey analyzed a Passaic Valley Water
Commission drinking water treatment plant, which serves 850,000 people in
Northern New Jersey, and found a metabolized angina medicine and the
mood-stabilizing carbamazepine in drinking water.
_A sex hormone was detected in San Francisco's drinking water.
_The drinking water for Washington, D.C., and surrounding areas tested
positive for six pharmaceuticals.
_Three medications, including an antibiotic, were found in drinking water
supplied to Tucson, Ariz.
The situation is undoubtedly worse than suggested by the positive test
results in the major population centers documented by the AP.
The federal government doesn't require any testing and hasn't set safety
limits for drugs in water. Of the 62 major water providers contacted, the
drinking water for only 28 was tested. Among the 34 that haven't: Houston,
Chicago, Miami, Baltimore, Phoenix, Boston and New York City's Department of
Environmental Protection, which delivers water to 9 million people.
Some providers screen only for one or two pharmaceuticals, leaving open the
possibility that others are present.The AP's investigation also indicates
that watersheds, the natural sources of most of the nation's water supply,
also are contaminated. Tests were conducted in the watersheds of 35 of the
62 major providers surveyed by the AP, and pharmaceuticals were detected in
Yet officials in six of those 28 metropolitan areas said they did not go on
to test their drinking water _ Fairfax, Va.; Montgomery County in Maryland;
Omaha, Neb.; Oklahoma City; Santa Clara, Calif., and New York City.
The New York state health department and the USGS tested the source of the
city's water, upstate. They found trace concentrations of heart medicine,
infection fighters, estrogen, anti-convulsants, a mood stabilizer and a
City water officials declined repeated requests for an interview. In a
statement, they insisted that "New York City's drinking water continues to
meet all federal and state regulations regarding drinking water quality in
the watershed and the distribution system" _ regulations that do not address
In several cases, officials at municipal or regional water providers told
the AP that pharmaceuticals had not been detected, but the AP obtained the
results of tests conducted by independent researchers that showed otherwise.
For example, water department officials in New Orleans said their water had
not been tested for pharmaceuticals, but a Tulane University researcher and
his students have published a study that found the pain reliever naproxen,
the sex hormone estrone and the anti-cholesterol drug byproduct clofibric
acid in treated drinking water.