Gillibrand Wants EPA Study on Drugs in Drinking Water

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand wants the federal Environmental Protection Agency to study how trace amounts of pharmaceutical drugs in drinking water affect human health. Regulators and drug-makers say the amounts are too small to have an impact. But Gillibrand and some scientists say the long-term effects need to be studied.

GILLIBRAND: So we can assess what exactly are the sources that we need to be concerned about and what are ways to reduce this dumping, particularly if it is found to be at levels that are not safe.

The EPA currently tests for, and finds, 22 different compounds. it estimates hundreds of millions of pounds are released annually into the water supply from drug-manufacturers, hospitals, households and domesticated animal operations.

According to an ongoing investigation by the Associated Press, more than 90 percent of those drugs are antiseptics, such as hydrogen peroxide. Others include nicotine from patches, codeine, estrogen and antibiotics.