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Posted 5/12/08

Water providers rarely release full test results to the public

From the Associated Press:

When water providers find pharmaceuticals in drinking water, they rarely tell the public. When researchers make the same discoveries, they usually don't identify the cities involved.

There are plenty of reasons offered for the secrecy: concerns about national security, fears of panic, a feeling that the public will not understand -- even confidentiality agreements.

"That's a really sensitive subject," said Elaine Archibald, executive director of California Urban Water Agencies, an 11-member organization comprised of the largest water providers in California.

She said many customers "don't know how to interpret the information. They hear something has been detected in source water and drinking water, and that's cause for alarm -- just because it's there."

As The Associated Press documented in a five-month investigation, drinking water provided to at least 41 million people living in 24 major metropolitan areas has tested positive for trace amounts of pharmaceuticals.

Most Americans probably think they have a good idea of what's being detected in their water. Federal law requires water providers to distribute annual "consumer confidence reports" that reveal levels of regulated contaminants. Providers are not, however, required to tell people if they find a contaminant that is not on a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency list. And there are no pharmaceuticals on the EPA list.

Read the full article here.

   

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