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Pharmaceutical Compounds in Drinking Water

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Many customers have read articles about the discovery of pharmaceutical compounds in water. This includes common antibiotics, caffeine, acetaminophen, and other common compounds used in prescriptions or other medicinal products. These compounds travel through our bodies and then are excreted in various forms. Or, sometimes, consumers dump excess products into their toilets or sinks, without giving much thought to where these chemicals will end up, which is often in a lake or river used to supply drinking water.

In August 2011 the Sheboygan Water Utility tested its drinking water for a standard bank of 64 different pharmaceutical compounds. Only one compound, cotinine, was detected at a level of 2 parts per trillion. This same level of cotinine was also found in Milwaukee and Chicago’s finished water. Cotinine is a metabolic by-product of nicotine. There were no detections of any other pharmaceutical compounds.

Currently there are no regulatory requirements for these pharmaceutical compounds including cotinine. Similarly there are no health studies showing that cotinine poses any health risk at these minute levels. More details are shown on the pharmaceutical compound test results.