Water that has passed through municipal treatment systems has had most of the toxins and foreign particles removed from it, but not all of them are filtered out. In recent studies conducted by the Associated Press, pharmaceuticals in the water supply were detected in a number of American cities. This raised the question for many people- does reverse osmosis remove pharmaceuticals from water? The answer resides in the nature of pharmaceuticals and how reverse osmosis systems work.
The alarming report showed that a wide variety of pharmaceuticals were present in alarming levels in drinking water. The systems that supplied these contaminants served millions of customers each. This made the originators of the study suppose that many, many more municipal water supplies were likely tainted with drugs but had simply not yet been tested for them.
One of the reasons that the drugs were present in so many water systems was that treatment plants are not required to test for them. Most systems don’t have a budget that allows plants to test for things that they aren’t required to test for or to remove. For this reason, the exact number of pharmaceuticals in the water and the number of systems that contain them are unknown.
Some of the many drugs that have already been found in municipal drinking water include drugs for depression, painkillers, mood stabilizers and sex hormones. Estrogen in the general water supply may have a feminizing effect on the men who drink it. It may also be responsible for some cases of certain cancers in women, such as breast cancer.
Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Pharmaceuticals From Water?
There has been some debate about whether these systems can be adequate for taking drugs out of drinking water. There are some pharmaceuticals that may be filtered out during the process. However, many others will not.
The drugs that remain in the system simply make it through to the drinking water supply. However, because the water has been through the reverse osmosis system, it may be assumed that the pharmaceuticals in the supply have been removed. This false sense of security can be dangerous to anyone counting on the system to take these substances out.
Reverse osmosis is done by filtering water through a very tight membrane. The pores on the membrane are tiny enough to allow H2O particles to pass through but nothing larger than those particles can pass. Therefore, if the particles of one drug are larger than H2O particles, they will be filtered out. If the particles of another are smaller, they will pass through.
Pharmaceuticals in water supply a number of harmful chemicals into the drinking water of many residential areas. They can be contraindicated with the medications that a person is taking, resulting in adverse reactions. When people ask — does reverse osmosis remove pharmaceuticals from water — there are no hard and fast answers. Trusting the systems to remove all of these substances, however, will always result in some degree of disappointment.