Secret Health Fears

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Rosanne Lufrano

The fear: Contaminated drinking water. Ever since the nineties, when bottled water burst onto the scene, I’ve eyed tap water with fear and suspicion. I won’t even drink unfiltered tap water from my own home; I use a Brita pitcher.

Reality check: Rosanne’s fear isn’t that irrational. In 2008, the Associated Press reported that a “vast array of pharmaceuticals” (including antibiotics, anticonvulsants, and sex hormones) had been discovered in the drinking water of at least 46 million Americans. (The unmetabolized drug residues made their way from humans to wastewater and into reservoirs and watersheds.) The drug amounts are so tiny as to be harmless in any one dose, but some experts are concerned about the cumulative exposure.

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