We all need to drink water. Our body is approximately 60% water, our brain is 70% water and our lungs are 90% water. Each day, we must replace 2.4 litters - through ingested liquid and foods. So, knowing how important it is to our survival and wellbeing, then it would not be unreasonable to assume that our Government would be on top of their game.
After all it’s one of the few things we ask them to take care of for us, but rather than concentrate on taking impurities out of our drinking water, they appear more fixated on putting something in, i.e.: fluoride to mass medicate the community.
Because the good people in the North East have poor oral health (28% of five-year-olds have tooth decay) and I agree that it is a real issue, in so much that if left untreated, then dental caries can lead to tooth loss, chewing problems, malnutrition and infection. So to alleviate the problem Public Health England in conjunction with Northumbrian Water Ltd add 600 litres of hexafluorosilicic acid and chlorine (to disinfect) and phosphoric acid (to counteract lead in the supply pipes) to Newcastle’s Whittle Dene reservoirs.
Personally, I would rather see our government attack the actual cause of the problem, i.e: cheap sweets, fizzy drinks excess of sugar in processed foods, as not only would that tackle dental health issues, but it would also go a long way to address their obesity issues (cancers, type 2 diabetes and heart conditions), as well as bringing down their associated cost to the NHS.
Anyway, at the very least we would expect the Water Companies whose job it is to supply public water removes anything that could be considered harmful from our water - the list of prohibited nasty’s includes: parasites (such as giardia or cryptosporidium), bacteria, algae, viruses, fungi, pesticides, minerals, toxic metals (lead, copper, mercury etc.) and man-made medicinal creams and lotions like sunscreens and skin lotions, plus chemical based perfume, cologne and after shave.
Problem is, their purification system does NOT filter out prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications, because they are designed by pharmaceuticals companies to be long lasting. In fact you may be surprised to know that between 30-90% of any medicine taken, is excreted out. Therefor when the unabsorbed drugs is passed out in our urine, then a proportion of these unadulterated drugs makes it’s way into our lakes, rivers, and streams, through the sewage filtering system and re-enters our domestic supply and finally our tap water.
Now consider this: every year over one billion prescription items are dispensed in England alone, (or 2.7 million items every day), that’s a lot of medication that we are now ALL taking unintentionally. If you tested your urine then you will almost certainly be discharging tiny amounts of man made drugs (that you were not taking). You would be right to be angry that nobody has informed you of this.
Then there’s the problem associated with farm animals (in particular large-scale poultry and livestock operations) who generate two trillion pounds of waste produce in this country every year and all of it’s animals (beef and milk cows, sheep, pigs, chickens etc.) Are all loaded with hormones and antibiotics which are fed to animals to make them grow faster and to prevent them from getting sick. Inevitably, some of those hormones and antibiotics leach into groundwater and return to our waterways and by default into us, (the rest we digest when we eat the creature)!
Plus in addition to that, you can also factor in, illegal drug use, which is epidemic in the UK, with nearly one in three British adults (15 million people) claims to have taken an illegal substance and a fifth of those still do so on a regular basis and you can see that we have a major health problem on our hands.
We’re at a critical point now, we must preserve the purity of our water supply, not only for our benefit, but also for that of every living creature on the planet. The current situation is mind-boggling as our rivers and streams are contaminated with a cocktail of so many different medicines: birth control pill, antidepressants (Prozac), sedatives, antibiotics, painkillers, anti-cancer drugs, anti-inflammatories and pain killers (ibuprofen and diclofenac). Class A illegal drugs, including: heroin (diamorphine), cocaine (crack) and ecstasy. Plus, veterinary drugs, like: Praziquantel (treating tapeworms), Nitarsone (used in poultry to increase weight) and Amitraz (an antiparasitic used to control ticks, mites and lice) to name but three medicines and goodness knows what else (which means radiation from nuclear power stations and industrial waste).
Truth is, little is really known about the effects of consumption over long periods of time, as all drugs are of course not the same, but any doctor will tell you that when they prescribe a patient with say four different drugs then their conditions gets more difficult to manage, because the benefits of one particular drug is offset by the other three.
But what would happen if you are mixing say a cocktail of hundreds of different pharmaceuticals, admittedly at a very low level, (but this figure is rising) and besides the truth is nobody can foretell the implications of mixing both regulated and unregulated drugs. But we do know they won‘t be good, as in the long term, medicines in our drinking water will almost certainly come back to haunt us.
Officially the levels of pharmaceutical pollution in our drinking water supply as registered by the ‘water companies‘ (yes I know what that means) is classed as low, which suggests that they are not harming humans (yet). However scientists are studying the effect of these drugs on ecosystems and disturbing clues from aquatic life suggest now is the time for preventive action, as egg production in fish, has had a feminising effect on the male fish, which is decreasing their ability to reproduce, and of course where the lower creatures in the animal kingdom go, we will soon follow.
There is increasing evidence that human and veterinary medicines are damaging wildlife, salmon has been found to contain ethinyl estradiol, which is used in the contraceptive pill. Perch fish have been found to be contaminated with 23 pharmaceuticals, including anti-cancer drugs and studies on otters have found that their bones are becoming lighter
Obviously as the population grows and gets older, the level of pharmaceuticals being pumped into the environment will increase accordingly. This is one of the most serious threats to our environmental health and it’s entirely self-inflicted. It is the water supply companies’ responsibility to ensure they provide you with safe water and tackle these issues head on.
In fact so serious the situation is at present that it should be designated as life threatening (even a doomsday scenario) and should be addressed immediately. Our current, out of sight, out of mind can no longer be the approach we take to dumping the chemicals in our waters, even if it is unintentional. ‘Dilution is not the solution’. Therefor, what we are proposing is do, is to ask questions in Parliamentary and reduce the impact these residues have on the environment.
It can be done. Firstly we need to set up a program to allow people to drop-off unused portions of medicines at their local chemists. Then secondly, get big drug companies like GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to make a small chemical changes to the structure of their drugs, that will make them break down in water and degrade into harmless substances.
But big business never self-governs itself if it means loosing money and so change can only happen through Parliament and regulation and that’s why we must lobby government. Don’t put off till tomorrow, what you can do today.
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