Sunday, March 9, 2008

Life Inside the Ouroborus

A new Associated Press report says that trace amounts of pharmaceutical drugs have been found in the nation's waterways and cities' water supplies.

Though only in the parts per billion or trillion, the discovery is worthy of concern, since few studies of long-term, low-grade human exposure have been done.

What is known is that the drugs are having an affect on wildlife -- particularly fish, who are increasingly displaying "intersex" traits, such as male fish possessing egg yolk proteins.

The drugs range from anti-convulsants and anti-depressants to painkillers, sex hormones, antibiotics and chemotherapy agents. Of less concern, but also present, are caffeine, nicotine and ibuprofen.

Drugs used in cattle ranching and other agricultural practices, as well as pharmaceuticals prescribed to pets, are also contributing to the problem.

While most metropolitan water supplies filter and clean their drinking water for germs and other biological contaminants, much of this purification is performed with chlorine, a chemical which, in some cases, could actually cause some drugs to become even more toxic.

Experts say bottled water is not immune to the problem, since much of it is simply tap water treated to provide a better taste. Home filtration systems, as well, are not effective in removing the trace chemicals.

The discovery is not new. The EPA and other government bodies have been aware of the problem for some time, and similar stories can be found on the web going back to 2005.

There's yet no consensus about what effect -- if any -- exposure to these compounds has had or may have on humans, and there's a good chance that the concern about this issue will eventually die down or be forgotten altogether.

But if you ever wanted proof that we live inside an ouroboros -- the mythical creature that consumes and recreates itself -- here it is.

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