- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
"The agency's work to increase industry stewardship and scientific understanding of pharmaceuticals in water continues," said Benjamin H. Grumbles, EPA assistant administrator for water. "By reaching out to the National Academy of Sciences and requesting information from the health care industry, EPA is taking important steps to enhance its efforts."
The agency is also commissioning the National Academy of Sciences to provide scientific advice on the potential risk to human health from low levels of pharmaceutical residues in drinking water. The National Academy of Sciences will convene a workshop of scientific experts Dec. 11-12, to advise the agency on methods for screening and prioritizing pharmaceuticals to determine potential risk.
Other actions the agency is taking include: expanding a recent fish tissue pilot study to sample nationally to determine whether residues from pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) may be present in fish and waterways; developing a methodology to establish water quality criteria to protect aquatic life; and conducting studies to examine the potential occurrence of PPCPs in sewage sludge and wastewater. To facilitate these efforts, the agency has developed state-of-the-art analytical methods capable of detecting various pharmaceuticals, steroids and hormones at very low levels.
The EPA also is participating in an international effort with the World Health Organization to study appropriate risk assessment methods for pharmaceuticals as environmental contaminants.
The research on pharmaceuticals in water is in response to a news report by the Associate Press last spring, which warned American readers that trace levels of pharmaceuticals may be polluting their drinking water. While no dangerous levels have yet to be found, the EPA said it takes the possibility seriously. Little is currently known about the levels of certain drugs in drinking water, or their effects, if any.
The EPA will accept public comments on the Health Care Industry ICR for 90 days after it is published in the Federal Register.