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Source: WCBS New York

A.G. Cuomo Goes After Drugs In NY Water

BY TONY AIELLO

Posted: January 14, 2010
Originally Published: January 13, 2010

NEW YORK (CBS) ― Serving homes from Westchester County to Staten Island, the New York City drinking water supply is a vital resource. Protecting it from pharmaceutical pollution is a growing concern.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said he's taking a proactive step to keep so-called "waste drugs" out of the water supply. "You want to keep that water pure. You don't want to be drinking a glass of antibiotics or a glass of medication unless you know you're drinking a glass of medication, right?" he said.

His investigators busted five hospitals and nursing homes in Delaware and Putnam Counties, the heart of New York's watershed.

All of them were caught flushing thousands of unused prescription pills instead of disposing of them properly.

"Let me emphasize that there's no evidence anyone has been harmed to date. We want to be sure that nobody is harmed in the future," said Dr. David Carpenter of SUNY-Albany.

Experts said when drugs go down the drain, even if the wastewater is treated, trace amounts of drugs re-enter the water supply. It's raising concerns for human health.

"There haven't been any long-term nor short-term studies done on this kind of an impact of multiple pharmaceutical drugs exposed to humans, particularly the most vulnerable such as children and developing fetuses," said Adrienne Esposito of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Under a deal with the state, the medical facilities agreed to stop flushing pills and instead will pay to have them incinerated.

Under the settlement the hospitals and nursing homes have also agreed to become community collection points, so local residents have a place to safely dispose of their pharmaceuticals.

Bottom line, the best way to keep trace amounts of drugs out of drinking water is to not put drugs down the drain.