Pharmaceutical compounds found in nation's fresh water

April 30, 2007

Missoula, Mont. - April 30, 2007 - According to a study in the May/June 2007 issue of the journal Ground Water, pharmaceuticals are being found in septic tanks and, consequentially, ground water due to incomplete human metabolism and excretion into the waste stream or by disposal of unused medications in the toilet or down the sink.

This screening-level study investigated the occurrence of pharmaceuticals in areas receiving waste water from septic tanks located in sand and gravel deposits in Missoula, Montana.

Many pharmaceutical and pharmaceutically-active compounds (e.g. caffeine) persist through the human body and are resistant to conventional waste water treatment practices. They are often detected in aquatic environments such as lakes, rivers and ground water, which can receive direct inputs of treated waste water.

"We don't know what toxicological effects these detectable concentrations of pharmaceuticals pose, although typical concentrations in one liter of ground water are usually much lower than a typical human therapeutic dose," says lead author Emily Godfrey.

While such low concentrations do not appear to pose a threat to human health, this research may help frame policy on the disposal of expired or unused compounds.
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This study is published in Ground Water. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact professionalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net.

Emily Godfrey B.S, M.S, EMT -P works for the New Jersey Geological Survey; she conducts ground water analyses of public water supply wells. She can be reached for questions at Emily.godfrey@dep.state.nj.us.

Ground Water, a journal of the National Ground Water Association, is the leading international journal focused exclusively on ground water. Since 1963, Ground Water has published a dynamic mix of papers on topics related to ground water including ground water flow and well hydraulics, hydrogeochemistry and contaminant hydrogeology, application of geophysics, groundwater management and policy, and history of ground water hydrology. For more information, go to www.blackwellpublishing.com/gwat. For more information on the National Ground Water Association, which was established in 1948, go to www.ngwa.org/index.cfm

Blackwell Publishing is the world's leading society publisher, partnering with 665 medical, academic, and professional societies. Blackwell publishes over 800 journals and has over 6,000 books in print. The company employs over 1,000 staff members in offices in the US, UK, Australia, China, Singapore, Denmark, Germany, and Japan and officially merged with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.'s Scientific, Technical, and Medical business in February 2007. Blackwell's mission as an expert publisher is to create long-term partnerships with our clients that enhance learning, disseminate research, and improve the quality of professional practice. For more information on Blackwell Publishing, please visit www.blackwellpublishing.com or www.blackwell-synergy.com.

Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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