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Are Prescription Drugs In California’s Drinking Water? The Answer May Surprise You.

By Your Advisor 5/8/23 12:56 PM Time to read:

Government agencies and health organizations in California and elsewhere are sounding the alarm over the discovery of a cocktail of pharmaceutical drugs discovered in rivers, lakes, and ground-water sources around the world.

Even here in California, where some of the world’s most rigorous tap water standards are in place, studies of well and tap water have detected trace elements of pharmaceuticals, including opioids, hormones, antidepressants, and other chemicals known as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances).

With these trace substances on the rise, it’s important that our customers understand what’s at stake, and what solutions are available to protect yourself. Some of what we’ll talk about in this blog include:

  • What drugs are being discovered in our drinking water?
  • What resources are available to see what’s in my drinking water?
  • What can I do to protect me and my family from trace contaminants?

Let’s get started.

Worried about prescription drugs in your drinking water? Burgeson’s can help.

Burgeson’s will send a professional plumber to test your drinking water and share with you the water conditioning system options for your home. We can help you make sense of the water treatment options that are out there, so don’t hesitate to give us a call!


What Drugs Are Being Discovered, both in California and Around the World?

Public health officials citing the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and other government agencies are deeply concerned about the effects trace pharmaceuticals are having on both humans and aquatic life around the globe.

The USGS considers pharmaceuticals as a volatile organic compound, placing them in the same category as plastics, dyes, rubbers, insecticides, and disinfectants. Traces of all of these compounds have been found in the groundwater which makes its way into homes across the country.

The recent study cited above by the USGS found a variety of volatile organic compounds during their search. Some of these include:

  • Bisphenol-A (BPA): A chemical found in many antibiotics and cancer treatment drugs, but also in plastics.
  • 1,9-dimethylxanthine: A metabolite found in caffeine
  • Acetaminophen: An over-the-counter painkiller

You may be wondering how these compounds are making their way into our drinking water. The simple answer is, "legal" does not equal "safe." In many cases around the U.S., including here in California, updates to the legal limits of certain compounds haven't been updated in years. In some municipalities, it could be decades.

Which brings up another question: how can you learn exactly what’s in the drinking water coming into your home? We answer that question in the next section.

What Resources Are Available to See What’s In My Local Drinking Water?

If you’re wondering how to see what’s in your local drinking water, Environmental Working Group(EWG), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, has one of the largest tap water databases in the world. To access these resources, simply visit their website and enter in your zip code.

Burgeson’s did a test of our own zip code, 92374, which is covered by the San Bernardino Valley Water District. The EWG notes 6 contaminants exceeded EWG health guidelines, and 10 contaminants total were discovered. Many of these contaminants, such as chromium, nitrate, and tetrachloroethylene, have been identified as potentially carcinogenic.

In some instances, such as with Chromium, there is no legal limit in effect. That could be a serious problem, one caused by the slow pace of updates to our federal and state drinking water codes.

What Homeowners Can Do to Protect Their Drinking Water

The most important question of all: what can you do as a homeowner to protect yourself and your family from these trace contaminants?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Test your home’s water quality from time to time: Once every few years, it’s important to ensure the water coming into your home is safe and that any filters or water treatment systems installed in your home are in good working order. 
  • Consider a whole-home water conditioning system: California’s drinking water undergoes a rigorous treatment process before making its way into homes across the state. But an extra layer of protection can catch those last remaining contaminants before they enter your home. 
  • For homeowners with well water drinking sources: Extra care should be taken if you get your water directly from a ground source. If your drinking water does come from a ground source, we recommend having your water reviewed more frequently for contaminants. Installing a whole-home water conditioning system is also important.

Burgeson’s solution: A Whole-Home Water Conditioning System

Burgeson’s installs the most reliable water conditioning systems by America’s most trusted brands. When you’re ready to schedule an in-home consultation, call us at 909-792-2222 or request an appointment online using the button below.