Researchers find small traces of pharmaceuticals in Tenn. River

Researchers find small traces of pharmaceuticals in Tennessee River

Posted:
Researchers at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga studied samples from the Tennessee River and detected small traces of pharmaceuticals. Researchers at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga studied samples from the Tennessee River and detected small traces of pharmaceuticals.
KUB tests around 35 million gallons of water from the Tennessee River each day. KUB tests around 35 million gallons of water from the Tennessee River each day.
The most commonly found substance was caffeine, followed by other types of antibiotics. The most commonly found substance was caffeine, followed by other types of antibiotics.

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Researchers at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga studied samples from the Tennessee River and detected small traces of pharmaceuticals.

The amounts are tiny and aren't believed to pose a threat to human health but researchers said it raises concerns about long term ecological effects, particularly when it comes to aquatic life.

"If we take care of the environment, the environment will take care of us," researcher Dr. Sean Richards told 6 News by phone. "We're not saying people should stop taking medications, but we should be monitoring the effects."

Richards described the amount of the traces found as totaling "less than a drop in a swimming pool." He said it is not a cause for alarm about the drinking water.

KUB said the water supply in Knoxville is safe and is in compliance with state and federal regulations.

KUB tests around 35 million gallons of water from the Tennessee River each day.

"Each day we're looking at bacteria and various types of chemicals; things that occur naturally in the environment," Manager of KUB's Regulatory Compliance Department Debbie Ailey said.

However, testing for pharmaceuticals in the water supply is not part of required regulations.

Richards along with Justin Conley, Steven Symesb, and Scott Kindelberger have been taking samples from the Tennessee River since 2000.

Their study found 13 different types of pharmaceuticals but Richards said they weren't found in every single sample taken.

The most commonly found substance was caffeine, followed by other types of antibiotics.

"Just because a substance is detectable, it doesn't mean that it's harmful to human health," Ailey said.

The Tennessee Clean Water Network said monitoring for pharmaceuticals in the water supply would likely come with a hefty price tag.

"Those pieces are very small and would probably require a third level of treatment, fine filtering. treatment processes are expensive and sewage treatment plants are generally operating on a really tight budget," TCWN Executive Director Renée Hoyos said. "We need to hold governments and industries accountable when we discover there are links or ill effects to humans or to wildlife and fish and they need to be responsible and fix the problem."

Experts said people should never flush medications or pour them down the drain. Instead, they encourage folks to take part in medical take-back initiatives through local law enforcement agencies.

Powered by WorldNow

1306 N. Broadway NE Knoxville,
Tennessee 37917

Telephone: 865.637.NEWS(6397)
Fax: 865.525.4091
Email: newsroom@wate.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Young Broadcasting of Knoxville, Inc. A Media General Company.