The safety of tap water is a question many pet owners ask for themselves and for their pets. Our Tap water is regulated (by the EPA) and determines it to be safe when coming from the tap. However, one wonders how strictly these guidelines are followed.
There are 8 possible contaminates that are of potential concern in tap water. They include:
- Fluroide. Several decades ago, the United States government mandated the addition of fluoride to the water supply. There is some controversy over the safety of fluoride as it is also a toxin and considered a hazardous waste by the EPA.
- Chloride. This is used in water treatment plants as a disinfectant. However, there is also question about the safety of routinely drinking chloride, as it has been associated with bladder, rectal, and breast cancers.
- Drugs. Several drugs including antibiotics, birth control, painkillers, blood pressure medications, antidepressants, and much more have shown up in public water supplies. Learn more about this issue below.
- Chromium. Normally found in our Earth such as plants, rock and more, this element is probably classified as a carcinogen and can enter the water.
- Radioactive contaminants. Contaminants have been identified in U.S. drinking water supplies in low levels. The impact is unclear.
- Arsenic. Natural deposits in the earth may release arsenic into our water supply. Arsenic is considered a carcinogen and is toxic.
- Lead, aluminum, and other heavy metals. The most common way these metals contaminate our water is through corrosion of the pipes in our homes plumbing system. Symptoms of toxicity can include learning disorders in children, as well as nerve and brain damage.
- Bacteria. Bacteria can enter the water system from sewers or enter from animal wastes in fertilizer or in the ground.
Drug Contamination in Tap Water
While your tap water may be portable, that doesn’t mean it’s pure or healthy. A lot of people can get low-grade infections from bacteria in local water supply-and that can lead to such symptoms as feeling bloated, itchy eyes, stomach cramping, and fatigue. And you’d have no idea what even caused the problems.
Drinking plenty of water and other liquids may reduce the risk of bladder cancer by diluting the concentration of cancer-causing agents in urine and helping to flush them through the bladder faster. Drink at least 8 cups of liquid a day, suggests the American Cancer Society.
It’s not good for you, either. Bottled water companies increasingly use BPA-free plastic, but laced into plastic bottles are other chemicals that can seep out if bottles are exposed to heat or sit around for a long time. Some of these chemicals are possible endocrine disruptors.
Recently, an article published by the Associated Press (AP) in 2008 exploited the presence of several drugs in drinking water from various locations around the country. Since then, this has been intermittently in the National headlines. In this particular According to the AP article, they tested water that supplies over 41 46 million Americans during a 5-month survey. The residue of several drugs including both nonprescription drugs and prescription drugs were found.
Nonprescription drugs such as Tylenol and ibuprofen as well as prescription drugs such as sex hormones, antibiotics, antidepressants, and other drugs have been found in the water at several water facilities across the country. Of the 62 water sources, 28 were tested. Of those, 25 of the 28 tested positive for drug residue including 24 large metropolitan areas. Some tested positive for multiple drugs.
The amounts of drug residue in the water were very small and much less than a therapeutic dose of medication but this raised concern regarding the safety of the water. Is the water safe to drink? What happens with the consumption of water over time? The water utility companies claim this water is safe. The U.S. government does not have requirements for safe drug levels in the water.
Drugs get into the water as water is recycled. People take drugs of which some is absorbed and the rest is eliminated out of the body. As these drugs are eliminated in urine, the residue ends up back into the water supply. Water purification systems eliminate some but not all drugs from the water.
What does this mean to our health? No one really seems to know. Water plants indicate the water is safe. Several doctors have been quoted as not being quite as sure. Drinking this water containing drug residue over a long period of time could have some effects but it has not been studied.
Of course, water safety issues have only addressed humans…but what about dogs and cats? How does water traced with drug residues affect their health? According to veterinarian Dr. Debra Primovic from Columbus, Ohio, “Water containing drugs in the drinking water of pets concerns me. We have no way to know how this will affect their long-term health. Until this is further studied, we cannot be sure.”
What can you do? No one seems sure. Dr. Primovic says, “Until more information is available and research is done, no one will probably be able to give you a final answer”.
What Do We Recommend For Water for Your Dog?
- Filter your water. There is controversy regarding if filtering will eliminate all or any of the drugs and other contaminants but until we know for sure, it isn’t going to hurt anything. The purity of bottled water probably varies and its purification is not known. It will be good for both you and your pets.
- If you live in an older home, allow your tap water to run for a few one to two minutes before using that water to drink.
- If you live in a home with a well, have your drinking water regularly tested. Call your local health department to determine who in your area will test the water.
- Read your water report. As required by the EPA, municipalities send a drinking water report yearly that documents the water safety.
- For those with BPA concerns, filter than drink your water from a glass or BPA-free bottles.
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