Pharmaceuticals refer to synthetic or natural chemicals found in prescription and non-prescription drugs, including things such as hormone supplements, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), heart medications, and more. Pharmaceuticals are considered contaminants of emerging concern because of their potential to reach drinking water. Pharmaceutical pollution in water has been a fairly recent and growing concern whose long-term effects have yet to be fully explored.
Pharmaceuticals can be introduced into water sources through several means: in sewage, which carries the bodily waste of individuals and patients who have used these chemicals; from uncontrolled drug disposal (e.g., flushing medicines down toilets or through disposal in the trash); and from agricultural runoff.
In a 2004 to 2009 U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study, scientists found that pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities can be a significant source of pharmaceutical water contamination. In wastewater treatment plants that processed the waste from pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities, the concentration of pharmaceuticals was 10 to 1,000 times higher than in the processed water from treatment plants that did not receive pharmaceutical waste. These pharmaceutical waste treatment plants discharged their water in the river, and the pharmaceutical water contamination in the river was detected about 20 miles downstream from the plant, demonstrating both the inability of the treatment plants to remove pharmaceuticals and the ease with which pharmaceuticals can spread in the water.
Pharmaceutical contamination in agricultural water occurs through antibiotics and other drugs used in livestock; when the livestock defecate, the waste eventually seeps into the ground or into rivers and streams. Traces of pharmaceuticals in their excrement therefore contaminate the groundwater and streams through their manure.
Pharmaceuticals such as acetaminophen (i.e., Tylenol), caffeine, cotinine, diphenhydramine (i.e., Benadryl), and carbamazepine find their way into groundwater through human waste and disposal. Essentially, drugs that people take internally are not all metabolized in the body, and the excess ends up in our wastewater, where they end up in sewage treatment plants. Expired or unused drugs are also often thrown away in the trash, where they end up in landfills and eventually seep into groundwater.
Both prescription and non-prescription medications often confer a host of effects on the human body - both intended and as side-effects. When you drink water that is contaminated with pharmaceuticals, it can be akin to taking someone else's medication, in that there is no way to predict what the effect will be. You can see how important it is to make sure you have a water filter that removes pharmaceuticals.
There are currently very few monitoring programs or comprehensive studies available on human exposure to pharmaceuticals from drinking water. Because of this, a key challenge in assessing the potential human health risk associated with exposure to concentrations of pharmaceuticals in drinking water is the limited data available for the diverse group of pharmaceuticals in use today and their active metabolites.
Despite this, there exist several published scientific papers exploring the need to screen for the presence of pharmaceuticals in drinking water. These studies also stress the need to assess the health effects of pharmaceutical water contamination on human health.
Current observations suggest that it is unlikely that exposure to very low levels of pharmaceuticals in drinking water would result in appreciable adverse risks to human health, as concentrations of pharmaceuticals detected in drinking water are several orders of magnitude lower than the minimum active dose.
Multipure's drinking water systems utilize our proprietary solid carbon block technology to act as pharmaceutical water filters, as well as reduce the presence of other contaminants classified as "Emerging Compounds and Incidental Contaminants"; in fact, the majority of Multipure's systems are certified to use water filters that remove pharmaceuticals. Through a combination of mechanisms including mechanical filtration, physisorption, and chemisorption, Multipure's solid carbon block filters can reduce not only pharmaceuticals, but also the presence of other contaminants like asbestos, cysts, particulates, lead, mercury, PCBs, toxaphene, PFOAs, and chlorine.
Multipure's Aqualuxe, Aquaversa and Aquamini drinking water systems are NSF-certified according to NSF/ANSI Standard 42 (Aesthetic Effects, e.g. chlorine and chloramine), 53 (Health Effects, e.g., asbestos, lead, and VOCs), and 401 (Emerging Contaminants, e.g., pharmaceutical filtration). NSF certification is a very high standard of quality, whose presence offers assurance that our filters perform exactly as claimed.
With certification that shows that Multipure systems will treat dozens of contaminants as well as act as pharmaceutical filters, they are an all-in-one solution for your drinking water needs. Multipure systems are high-performance, durable, and versatile, able to be installed on the counter, below the sink, or in-line with other appliances like refrigerators or icemakers. Most importantly, Multipure drinking water systems are more than just water filters that remove pharmaceuticals - they are the best solution for your family's drinking water needs.
Concerns about pharmaceutical pollution is just one reason people turn to the trusted products of Multipure. If you are interested in a comprehensive drinking water system or even just a replacement water filter that removes pharmaceuticals, please contact your local Multipure Independent Builder for more information.