Getting Medications Out of the Drinking Water


Do you take medications?

An Advil® for a sore arm, maybe something for blood pressure or the occassional antibiotic?

Did you know the active ingredients in these and other drugs have been found in our drinking water in Canada? Up to 30 different medications have been detected, each at varying levels.


We do not know how consuming water and food that is containated with low levels of drugs effects our health.  We do know it is having an impact some wildlife. In Asia, the death of thousands of vultures has been attributed to diclofenac (an anti-inflammatory drug), given to cattle which vultures feed on. Several studies have recorded the feminisation of male fish living close to water treatment plant outflows as a result of hormones in the water from birth control and hormone replacement therapy.

Researchers have identified the accumulation of some medications in the liver, muscle and brains of fish and otter hair. The affect these are having directly on the fish and further up the food web are still unknown.


Below is a diagram showing how pharmaceuticals get into the water supply



Important facts to know:

  • water treatment plants do not remove drugs from the water,
  • pills in the landfill come into contact with water, dissolve and then end up in local streams, rivers and lakes.

You can reduce drug getting into the water supply by:

  • taking medication as directed by the Dr or pharmacist: the right drug, at the right dose, at the right time - increases absorption,

  • take unused medication back to the pharmay to be disposed of appropriately.

These actions will immediately reduce medications entering your local water supply.


Want to know more about pharmaceuticals in the water? You can download the most recent global report from CHEMTrust at: