Friday, April 28, 2017

Chemicals Found in Many U.S. Streams

The mixture of pollutants in many U.S. streams are more complicated and potentially more dangerous than previously thought, a new study suggests.

Researchers checked for 719 organic chemicals in water samples from 38 streams across the United States and found more than half of those chemicals in the different samples.

Every stream – even those in wild and uninhabited areas – had at least one of the chemicals and some had as many as 162, the study found. It was led by scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The detected chemicals included: insecticides and herbicides, along with byproducts from their degradation; antibacterials such as triclosan; and medications such as antihistamines and the diabetes drug metformin.

Some of the chemicals were often detected together in streams. Further research is needed to determine the potential for complex interactions between these chemicals, to assess if they pose a threat to aquatic life, the food chain and human health the researchers said.

The study was published April 12 in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

My Take:
This study was submitted for peer review prior to the new U.S. administration taking office. You will no longer see studies like this from the EPA. In fact, the EPA has a gag order in place and is not allowed to discuss this study. That’s why you don’t see any quotes from the study team or press releases associated with this report. I am shocked that this study made it to publication.

The tainted drinking water in Flint, Michigan came from local rivers. The move to use river water was ill advised and the outcome is lead poisoning. This happened because the contaminants in the river water reacted with the lead pipes, leaching the lead into the water.

Flint is not an isolated example, it’s just the most publicized. Public water supplies in 42 states are contaminated with 141 unregulated chemicals for which the EPA has never established safety standards. Another 119 regulated chemicals were found by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in a two-and-a-half-year analysis of more than 22 million tap water quality tests.

Now that the Clean Water Act has been repealed, water quality will continue to diminish at an accelerated rate. We need more enforceable health standards and monitoring requirements for tap water, not less.

The Bottom Line:
I drink distilled water that I make at home. That provides some measure of protection for me and my family but does nothing to save the environment. Listen to what the scientists said during Earth Day. Planet Earth is our home. There is no option to move. How long can you survive without water?

April 12, 2017 National Institutes of Health

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