First, they deliberately contaminate the municipal water supply. Then, they create and sell products that tend to provide solution, bottled water.
Interestingly, bottled water is more expensive than soda drinks, and it can be addictive, too. It doesn’t really quench your thirst.
Does your Bottled Water Contain Nicotine? How about Pharmaceuticals?
November 28, 2014
Research published last year determined that commercial bottled water in Spain had over 50 pharmaceutically-active chemicals in it, as well as the highly addictive drug nicotine. Is your (or your children’s) bottled water polluted with addictive chemicals?
It looks like it very well may be. And we’re not talking about nicotine-supplemented water meant to help wean smokers off of nicotine. We’re talking the kind of bottled water people drink to avoid the pollutants found in municipal drinking water supplies.
Researchers from the School of Public Health, Immunology and Medical Microbiology of Spain’s Rey Juan Carlos University analyzed ten brand of commercially available bottled waters.
The researchers were surprised to learn that the bottled water contained 58 active pharmaceuticals, and five of the ten brands contained significant amounts of nicotine.
The nicotine content of these five brands ranged from 7 nanograms per liter to 15 ng/L. The researchers admitted that these levels were low. However, they added:
Despite the low nicotine concentration measured, the presence of this compound in bottled water still raises concern. Health risk assessment researchers have postulated that the risk to adult healthy humans from oral intake of nicotine at low levels is negligible. However, no studies have been conducted to assess the human health risk of vulnerable populations such as pregnant women and newborns. This population is the target of advertising on the purity and quality characteristics of bottled mineral water.
While this is the first study to document bottled waters containing these chemicals, there are other studies, even newer, confirming identifiable concentrations of nicotine, pharmaceuticals and pesticide chemicals in municipal drinking water.
In the UK for example, the British Geological Survey analyzed and tested ground water and drinking water supplies and also found nicotine along with caffeine and a variety of pharmaceuticals – such as carbamazepine and triclosan.
And many bottled waters are merely municipal tap water, sometimes run through a filtration unit. However, these filtration systems are typically designed to remove macro-pollutants such as lead and arsenic, but they may not filter out micropollutants such as pharmaceuticals and nicotine.
Studies finding pharmaceuticals in drinking water began to be published in the last decade. These were no fluke, however. And newer studies are confirming a growing problem among the world’s drinking water supplies.
For example, this year research from the Czech Republic’s Department of Water Hygiene at the National Institute of Public Health collected samples from 92 drinking water supplies, feeding half of Czech population.
They found the highest levels of pharmaceuticals to be ibuprofen, carbamazepine, naproxen, and diclofenac. These concentrations ranged from 0.5 to 20.7 nanograms per liter.
Another recent study – from Serbia’s University of Novi Sad Medical School – found trace levels of several antibiotics among their drinking water supplies.
Most municipal water treatment facilities do not filter out pharmaceuticals or other microtoxin metabolites from pesticides and other chemicals. New oxidation-driven systems are being tested, but these are not online in most municipalities. Micro-filtration units are also a possibility.
A study last year from Germany’s Free University Berlin found that the psychoactive drugs primidone and phenobarbital were found in drinking water supplies. Oxazepam and others were found in wastewater streams – likely soon to be in the drinking water supplies.
Another study from Spain – this from the Pharmacy Department of the University of Valencia – found numerous pharmaceuticals among the region’s ground water and drinking water supplies. They found 94% of the sediment and 80% of farming soils were polluted with carbamazepine, acetaminophen and others. They also found much of the drinking water supplies, pharmaceuticals were present at levels as high as 112 nanograms per liter. Soils contained lower concentrations, 15 nanograms per liter.
The researchers also pointed out high levels of fluoroquinolones and ibuprofen are threatening fish and otherwise contaminating the environment.
Meanwhile, last fall Polish researchers found the presence of beta-blockers and beta-agonists among their waterways.
And researchers from Australia’s University of Queensland studied waterways and water supplies close by hospitals. They found 57 different pharmaceuticals among these waterways, including many antibiotics – which entered into the system from hospitals and residential areas alike.
Researchers from the Netherlands found 12 pharmaceuticals in the drinking water supplies, as well as seven transformation products (metabolites that form other toxins).
Swedish researchers tested four waterways in the Montreal, Canada region between 2007 and 2009. They found significant levels of caffeine and a number of pharmaceuticals drugs – including carbamazepine, naproxen, gemfibrozil, and trimethoprim. They also found progesterone, estrone, and estradiol, along with the herbicide triazine – with atrazine, deethylatrazine, deisopropylatrazine, simazine, and cyanazine.
Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey’s California Water Science Center analyzed ground water supplies that feed numerous drinking water systems throughout California. They found pharmaceuticals affecting two to three percent of the 1231 ground water systems tested. However, in this study only 14 pharmaceutical compounds were tested for, out of hundreds possible. And out of these 14 tested, seven were found in concentrations that were equal or greater to detection limits. These seven included acetaminophen, caffeine, carbamazepine, the highly addictive codeine, the caffeine metabolite p-xanthine, and the antibiotics sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim. The samples also contained various pesticides, VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and others.
The research found that ground water supplies in the Los Angeles area were much more likely to contain pharmaceuticals, and contain higher levels of them.
It should be noted that several brands of commercial bottled waters (and many other foods and beverages containing water) are packaged in the Los Angeles area.
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- Le Corre KS, Ort C, Kateley D, Allen B, Escher BI, Keller J. Consumption-based approach for assessing the contribution of hospitals towards the load of pharmaceutical residues in municipal wastewater. Environ Int. 2012 Sep 15;45:99-111.
- de Jongh CM, Kooij PJ, de Voogt P, ter Laak TL. Screening and human health risk assessment of pharmaceuticals and their transformation products in Dutch surface waters and drinking water. Sci Total Environ. 2012 Jun 15;427-428:70-7.
- Ferrer I, Thurman EM. Analysis of 100 pharmaceuticals and their degradates in water samples by liquid chromatography/quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry. J Chromatogr A. 2012 Oct 12;1259:148-57.
- Daneshvar A, Aboulfadl K, Viglino L, Broséus R, Sauvé S, Madoux-Humery AS, Weyhenmeyer GA, Prévost M. Evaluating pharmaceuticals and caffeine as indicators of fecal contamination in drinking water sources of the Greater Montreal region. Chemosphere. 2012 Jun;88(1):131-9.
- González S, López-Roldán R, Cortina JL. Presence and biological effects of emerging contaminants in Llobregat River basin: a review. Environ Pollut. 2012 Feb;161:83-92.
- Stuart M, Lapworth D, Crane E, Hart A. Review of risk from potential emerging contaminants in UK groundwater. Sci Total Environ. 2012 Feb 1;416:1-21.
- Qiao T, Yu Z, Zhang X, Au DW. Occurrence and fate of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in drinking water in southern China. J Environ Monit. 2011 Nov;13(11):3097-103.
- Sanderson H. Presence and risk assessment of pharmaceuticals in surface water and drinking water. Water Sci Technol. 2011;63(10):2143-8.
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Keep your water in a glass container. Buy yourself an ozonizer and ozonize your filtered drinking water to neutralize harmful chemicals and parasites.
She Hasn’t Made Any Trash In Two Years. This Is What Her Life Is Like
I know what you are thinking. This girl must be a total hippie. Or a liar. Or she’s not real. But I assure you, I am none of those things. Well, except for real.
I didn’t always live what some call a “zero waste” life.
But I started making a shift about three years ago, when I was an Environmental Studies major at NYU, protesting against big oil, and president of a club that hosted weekly talks on environmental topics. In my mind I was super environmental, or as my grandma called me, a real “treehugger.” Everyone thought of me as the sustainability girl, so that meant that I was totally doing my share for the earth, right?
In one of my classes, there was another student who always brought a plastic bag containing a plastic clamshell full of food, a plastic water bottle, plastic cutlery, and a bag of chips. Class after class I watched her throw it all in the garbage, and I got so angry! I scoffed and sneered, but I never actually said or did anything. I just got mad.
One day I was particularly upset after class and went home to make dinner and try to forget about it, but when I opened my refrigerator I froze. I realized that every item I had in there was wrapped or packaged, one way or another, in plastic.
This was the first time in my life that I felt like I was able to look at myself and say, “YOU HYPOCRITE.” I was the green girl, not the plastic girl! What had I been doing my entire life? It was in that moment I made the decision to eliminate all plastic from my life.
Quitting plastic meant learning to make all of my packaged products myself.
This included everything from toothpaste to cleaning products, all things I had no clue how to make and had to learn by doing a lot of online research. One day I stumbled across a blog called Zero Waste Home. It followed the life of Bea Johnson, wife and mother of two children who all live a zero-waste life in California.
By that point I had already eliminated almost all plastic from my life. I thought, “If a family of four can live a zero-waste lifestyle, I, as a (then) 21-year-old single girl in NYC, certainly can.” So I took the leap.
How did I go from zero plastic to zero waste?
First, I stopped buying packaged products and began bringing my own bags and jars to fill with bulk products at the supermarket. I stopped buying new clothing, and shopped only secondhand. I continued making all of my own personal care and cleaning products. I downsized significantly by selling, donating, or giving away superfluous things in my life, such as all but one of my six identical spatulas, 10 pairs of jeans that I hadn’t worn since high school, and a trillion decorative items that had no significance to me at all.
Most importantly, I started planning potentially wasteful situations; I began saying “NO” to things like straws in my cocktails at a bars, to plastic or paper bags at stores, and to receipts.
Of course, this transition didn’t happen overnight.
This process took more than a year and required a lot of effort. The most difficult part was taking a hard look at myself, the environmental studies major, the shining beacon of sustainability, and realizing that I didn’t live in a way that aligned with my values.
I realized that while I sincerely cared about a lot of things, I wasn’t embodying my philosophies. Once I accepted that, I allowed myself to change and since then my life has been better every day. Here are just a few of the ways life has improved since I went trash free.
1. I save money.
I now make a grocery list when I go shopping, which means being prepared and not grabbing expensive items impulsively. Additionally, buying food in bulk means not paying a premium for packaging. When it comes to my wardrobe, I don’t purchase new clothing; I shop secondhand and get my clothes at a heavily discounted price.
2. I eat better.
Since I purchase unpackaged foods, my unhealthy choices are really limited. Instead, I eat a lot of organic fruits and vegetables, bulk whole grains and legumes, as well as a lot of seasonal, local food, since farmers markets offer amazing unpackaged produce.
3. I’m happier.
Before I adopted my zero-waste lifestyle, I would find myself scrambling to the supermarket before it closed, because I didn’t shop properly, ordering in takeout because I didn’t have food, always going to the pharmacy to get this scrub and that cream, and cleaning constantly because I had so much stuff.
Now, my typical week involves one trip to the store to buy all of the ingredients I need. This trip isn’t just for food, but also for cleaning and beauty products, since all of the things I use now can be made with simple, everyday ingredients. Not only is it easier and stress free, it’s healthier (no toxic chemicals!).
I never anticipated that actively choosing not to produce waste would turn into my having a higher quality of life. I thought it would just mean not taking out the trash. But what was at first a lifestyle decision became a blog, Trash is for Tossers, which became a catalyst for chatting with interesting, like-minded people, and making friends.
Now it’s blossomed into my quitting my great post-grad job as Sustainability Manager for the NYC Department of Environmental Protection to start my own zero-waste company, The Simply Co., where I hand-make and sell the products that I learned to produce over the past two years.
I didn’t start living this lifestyle to make a statement — I began living this way because living a zero-waste life is, to me, the absolutely best way I know how to live a life that aligns with everything I believe in.
Source: Mind Body Green
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