Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | May 13, 2009

Kentucky environmental attorney Sanders says NY Senator Gillibrand calling for EPA investigation into pharmaceuticals in drinking water supply.

In response to reports of trace amounts of pharmaceuticals, including estrogen and codeine, found in New York waterways and around the country, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced legislative action to study the presence of these drugs in drinking water and the long term health effects on children and families. Senator Gillibrand will work to move her provision this week when the Senate considers comprehensive legislation to improve water infrastructure across the country.

“As a lawmaker and mother of two young children, I expect that America’s drinking water is clean and free of these kinds of pharmaceuticals,” said Senator Gillibrand. “As we upgrade our failing water infrastructure, it is important that we also address the safety of our drinking water. Right now the federal government does not have adequate data on the long term health effects of these trace chemicals.¬† Parents count on the government to ensure clean, safe drinking water for all our families.”

In 2007, an Associated Press investigation reported that water supplies across the United States contained a number of drugs, including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers, and sex hormones.

Senator Gillibrand’s provision will require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to study the presence of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in water, identify exactly what is found and at what level, where it’s coming from, and how to control, limit, treat or prevent the dissemination of pharmaceuticals in drinking water. The EPA will have two years to produce the study.

There is currently no comprehensive data available on the presence of pharmaceuticals in drinking water or its long term health effects. While there are no confirmed health risks associated with consumption of trace amounts of pharmaceuticals in the water, there is no definitive assessment to rule out potential danger. In fact, some studies have shown that traces of pharmaceuticals may be harming fish in New York City’s Jamaica Bay due to increased levels of the female hormone estrone or other estrogenic chemicals discovered in the waterway.

As a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, Senator Gillibrand will play a leading role in drafting the Water Infrastructure Financing Act. Communities across New York State are struggling with deteriorating water infrastructure and the tremendous costs to rebuild. Senator Gillibrand will work to deliver federal dollars to these communities across New York State to rebuild failing sewers and water filtration systems, creating thousands of jobs and reducing the local property tax burden.

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