EPA to study risks of drugs in water

The Environmental Protection Agency will study the potential risks from low levels of pharmaceutical residue found in drinking water.

The EPA is asking the National Academy of Sciences to offer advice on how such risks should impact future regulatory decisions, agency officials said. The EPA also will study how hospitals, long-term care facilities, hospices and veterinarians dispose of unused pharmaceuticals.

Trace amounts of pharmaceuticals including antibiotics, anti-convulsants and mood stabilizers were found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans in 24 cities, the Associated Press reported in March.

Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer and Frank Lautenberg wrote the EPA after the story requesting plans to address the issue. At an April hearing, Boxer said: “Americans have a right to expect that their government is ensuring that they can turn on their taps and have water that is safe for their children and families to drink.”