UK testing tapwater for drugs

The UK Government has commissioned scientists to test river water at intake points amidst fears that water taken from the streams is contaminated with potentially dangerous prescription drugs.

The UK Government has commissioned scientists to test river water at intake points amidst fears that water taken from the streams is contaminated with potentially dangerous prescription drugs.

The water supplies are believed to be at risk due to the common practice of flushing unused pharmaceuticals down the drain.

Under a pilot program to begin next year, water supplies will be examined for about five of the most common and potentially dangerous prescription drugs. An expert panel is meeting over the coming weeks to ascertain what drugs they believe are most at risk of being present in the water and which rivers and streams to target for testing.

Scientists believe anti cancer drugs to be a main concern as these drugs can be passed unaltered directly from the body into the sewage system.

About 50 of these “cytotoxic” drugs are prescribed to patients in Britain and researchers are concerned they may have an additive effect – where small concentrations of two or more drugs become more poisonous when absorbed together at the same time in drinking water.

The tests are being carried out at the request of Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Drinking Water Inspectorate, which is responsible for overseeing the monitoring of water supplies in Britain. The tests will be carried out by a consortium of laboratories led by Defra’s Central Science Laboratory in York.

Source: The independent



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