Companies Leak Drugs Into US Drinking Water

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 19, 2009 6:34 PM CDT
An aeration basin is seen in operation at the Wilmington Wastewater Treatment Plant in Wilmington, Del.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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(Newser) – Federal regulators have consistently looked away as Big Pharma and other manufacturers poured at least 271 million pounds of drugs into waterways that supply US drinking water, the AP reports. Records kept unintentionally by the FDA and EPA show that 22 compounds, some considered dangerous by scientists, have leaked into America's water supply. But drug-makers say they're in compliance with federal laws—and officials agree.

Critics say it amounts to a "don't ask, don't tell" approach to monitoring US drinking water. And preliminary results of new government tests show that drug manufacturers are in fact emitting unusually high amounts of medicine into waterways. "It doesn't pass the straight-face test to say pharmaceutical manufacturers are not emitting any of the compounds they're creating," said a former EPA officer.