What's in the Water?

WILMINGTON --  An investigation by the Associated Press turned up traces of prescription drugs in the water systems of more than two dozen major metropolitan areas.

The investigation found traces of antibiotics, pain medication, and anti-anxiety drugs in the samples they tested from across the country.

The amounts were very small - parts per billion or trillion.  They weren't enough to hurt someone in one glass.

Some health officials are concerned about possible long-term effects of these substances on humans.

Federal authorities don't require local utilities to test the drinking water for drugs.  Brunswick County tests for between 30 and 50 different types of substances, some quarterly, some daily.

They follow all federal and state mandates to keep the water safe.

"All of the chemicals we do test for, we probably spent between 50 and 100 thousand dollars on outside lab testing, not counting what our employees do for the water," said Jerry Pierce, the Brunswick Public Utilities Director.

Pierce said he's not surprised at what was found in the drinking water systems.  He thinks many of those same particles would be found in other things humans consume like fish or other foods.

A suggestion he had was to not flush your unused prescription medicines down the toilet and into the system.  Talk to your pharmacist about ways to discard them.

Reported Jon Evans