Q-04: What if drinking water becomes unacceptable
due to an accumulation of bioactive molecules.
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Clean drinking water, free from pollutants and other contaminants, is a
basic human right. With population growth, social behavioural changes
and climatic change, water use has increased, water availability (supply
) has diminished. This has resulted in an increasing use of surface (
lake and river ) water as source water for drinking water production.
However, neither drinking water production technology nor standard tests
for drinking water quality determination have improved markedly in
The increased use of surface water, both directly and indirectly as a
result of aquifer recharge, present new questions particularly with
respect to problems concerning water reuse. Wastewater discharges
contain, even after rigorous treatment, ever increasing concentrations
of bioactive molecules or their potentially active residues as a result
of widespread chemo-therapy, regular use of birth control agents and
other hormones, inappropriate disposal of prescription drugs and the
common use of recreational drugs. Under low flow conditions, discharges
frequently represent major percentages of some source waters of surface
origin and, although, concentrations are usually thought to be below “no
effect” concentrations, long term exposure thresholds for many of the
compounds involved have never been established. Accordingly, public
concern with respect to the possible dangers of involuntary mass
medication is increasing.
Water utility providers are increasingly seen as either
ultra-conservative, even incompetent, if local authority controlled, or
excessively profit oriented, if commercially owned.
The key question is:
will tap water continue to be a safe supply of drinking water in the
years to come, particularly in regions that have come to rely on its
reputation for safety? .
Jacky E.L. Foo, Chairman,
IOBB (Intl Org for Biotechnology and Bioengineering)