Today, Sen. Frank R, Lautenberg (D-NJ), Chairman of the Transportation Safety, Infrastructure Security and Water Quality Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, announced that they planned to hold a hearing into the discovery of traces of pharmaceutical drugs in the water supplies of at least 41 million Americans.
The date of the hearing has not been finalized, but will likely occur in early April.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Our families deserve water that is clean and safe. I am deeply concerned by the findings of this study showing traces of drugs in the water in New Jersey and across the nation. Our hearing will examine these problems and help ensure the EPA and Congress take the steps necessary to protect our residents and clean up our water supply,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Sen. Lautenberg.
Sen. Boxer said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“As Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, I am alarmed at the pharmaceutical residues that reportedly are turning up in the drinking water of more than 41 million Americans. Senator Lautenberg and I will be convening an oversight hearing on this matter as soon as possible to determine what can be done to protect our children and families. I call on the EPA to take whatever steps are necessary to keep our communities safe.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The Associated Press conducted a five-month investigation and detected small amounts of drugs in the water of 24 major metropolitan areas. Tests done in the watersheds of 35 major water providers showed 28 testing positive for pharmaceuticals. The investigation surveyed the 50 largest cities in the country and a dozen other major water providers, as well as other small providers in each of the 50 states.
The levels of pharmaceuticals found in the water are at levels measured in the parts per billion or trillion, far below levels of medical use. Scientists, however, fear that ingestion of these tiny amounts of drugs over a long period of time may pose health risks to the public.
The federal government has not set safety limits for drugs in drinking water. In fact, fewer than half of the 62 major water providers could say their water was tested.
Sen. Lautenberg is a long-time advocate for clean and safe drinking water and his Safety, Infrastructure Security and Water Quality Subcommittee has jurisdiction over drinking water, water infrastructure and the Safe Drinking Water Act.