A new study indicates that traces of prescription drugs have been found in higher amounts in the country’s water supply than drug companies had previously thought.
Mail Online reports that a study on drinking water carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found samples of at least 25 different drugs, including medication to treat heart conditions, in supplies coming out of wastewater treatment plants.
Health officials reportedly noted that the traces of the drugs, which include over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen and prescription drugs such as hydrocodone, pose a low risk to humans, but they have also noted that there is no credible research to predict the effect that the mix of drugs could have on humans or wildlife.
The study, which was obtained by The New Republic, looked at samples from 50 large-size wastewater treatment plants nationwide and tested for 56 drugs including oxycodone, high-blood pressure medications, and over-the-counter drugs like Tylenol and ibuprofen.
According to the study, more than half of the samples tested positive for at least 25 of the drugs monitored and high blood pressure medications appeared in the highest concentrations and most frequently.
“We were surprised to find that many drugs occurring across all the wastewater plants,” Mitchell Kostich, the EPA research biologist who led the study, told The New Republic. “We were also surprised to see so many drugs of a particular class — the high blood pressure medications appear at those levels across the board.”
The New Republic story also notes that drugs can find their way into the water supply when our bodies release them when we urinate or if old drugs are flushed down the toilet.