Oklahoma water could be laced with drugs

Monday, March 10th 2008, 8:52 pm
By: News 9

By Kirsten McIntyre, NEWS 9

Oklahomans could be drinking pharmaceutical drugs according to an Associated Press study.

The in-depth study found tap water laced with anti-depressants, mood stabilizers and pain killers.

Marsha Slaughter is head of Oklahoma City's Utilities. Her department was sent a survey from the Associated Press as part of the investigation.

The Associated Press spent five months looking at our nation's drinking water. Reporters discovered trace amounts of pharmaceutical drugs in the water supply of 41 million Americans.

Researchers said the amounts found are very small and pose no short term dangers, but no one knows what the long term consequences may be.

 "The concern on a long range basis is how much of this are we taking in every day of our lives, and after 40 or 50 years, is there some profound long term effect on our health," said Associated Press Reporter Jeff Donn.

Rick Pienciak is an Associated Press Investigative Unit Editor. He said the drugs enter the water when people take pills and what their bodies don't absorb pass through and is flushed down the toilet.

 "We do know from studies elsewhere that the treatment systems aren't designed to take out all the pharmaceuticals and generally let some pharmaceuticals pass right through," Pienciak said.

In Oklahoma City, the water comes to a sewer plant for treatment. The water here was actually tested for pharmaceuticals and several were discovered.

"Acetaminophen, Motrin, Lipitor, Caffeine; Caffeine is the most prevalent actually," Slaughter said.

Slaughter said Oklahoma City hasn't tested their water for pharmaceutical drugs because the federal government doesn't require it.

"We just haven't done it yet," Slaughter said. "It's not a requirement. We're one of about 60 percent of the municipalities that haven't done it."