This is not a surprise, since treated wastewater enters the Hudson, but it is alarming. In a new study by scientists at Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory in the journal Water Research they have found pharmaceuticals at 92% of the 72 places they tested throughout the river, from above Troy south to the Battery.
Antibiotics, acetaminophen (tylenol), blood pressure medication, caffeine, anti seizure drugs, and ulcer medication were among the 16 compounds found. The volume of treated wastewater entering the Hudson is mind boggling. New York City alone treats and discharges and average of 1.3 billion gallons of sewage a day. Water treatment does not fully remove pharmaceuticals, as this study shows.
The effects of these chemicals are multifold, from antibiotic resistant bacteria in the river, to a myriad of adverse health effects to the people who get their drinking water from the river or who use it for recreation. And the effects of these drugs are cumulative, and cause problems even at levels we used to think of as inconsequential.
It is not just the Hudson either. USGS tests show that traces are in most of the water in the US. Some pharmaceuticals will enter the treatment facilities in urine, but a lot of it is improperly disposed of drugs that are flushed down the drains. Don’t flush drugs down the drains!!!
Many police stations are now part of the DEA National Drug Take Back, so a good first step is to ask at your police station. Otherwise you can get more information at the DEA site
To find a take-back center near you contact use the DEA data base.