Let's Drink To Sex Hormones and Pain Killers

EPA says chemical levels are "acceptable"

When we see all those beautiful people in Hollywood and LA, we think to ourselves that there must be something in the water out there.

Actually, no. There’s something(s) in the water right here.  Pour yourself a nice, cool glass of tap water, and you're also getting a nice little dose of sex hormones and painkillers.
We know the water quality reports mailed to you this month didn’t mention anything about sex hormones, painkillers or anti-cholesterol drugs, but city officials did in fact find traces of unregulated substances in treated Lake Michigan water within the past year.

Even though it’s required for Chicago to notify the public when unregulated junk is swimming around in the public’s water, this junk found in your water does not have to be reported because it is not included on a list of contaminants that the Environmental Protection Agency has limited from treated drinking water.

So, no, Mayor Richard Daley was not lying when he said that your “pure, fresh drinking water meets or exceeds all regulatory standards.”

But we’re not lying when we say that these water standards haven’t been updated for years. This is because no one’s sure how pharmaceutical concoctions will affect the public’s health, but negative effects are a possibility.

"We're just scratching the surface with what's been detected to date," Dana Kolpin, a researcher at the U.S. Geological Survey told the Chicago Tribune. "And we don't have a clue about what these mixtures can do."

The city tested samples of Lake Michigan water four times in 2008. The city’s Web site reports that among many other substances, testosterone and progesterone were found in the water, as well as ibuprofen, nicotine and DEET, an active ingredient in bug spray.

Sounds appetizing.

Even though conventional sewage and water treatment filters reduce how much of these substances get into our water, low doses still get through via residue from human waste. While the concentration is reduced, many of these substances are designed to have an impact at a low dose.

But in order for the EPA to ban these substances in our drinking water, more evidence is needed and the city needs to require routine testing for these specific chemicals.

For now, water officials say they don’t know enough to justify spending millions of taxpayer dollars to make the upgrades at treatment plants that may help strip chemicals from the water.

So here, here Chicago! A drink to sex hormones, bug spray and pain killers!


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