Yahoo has a news story up about pharmaceutical contaminated water! O noes! Then they try to scare you, especially by saying "The pharma companies aren't testing it cuz they're eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil!" but you really can't tell if there's actually a threat or not. (There might actually be a threat, but I'm going to relentlessly mock it either way for not presenting very good evidence of this) I'll show you what I mean.
Last year, the AP reported that trace amounts of a wide range of pharmaceuticals — including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones — have been found in American drinking water supplies. Including recent findings in Dallas, Cleveland and Maryland's Prince George's and Montgomery counties, pharmaceuticals have been detected in the drinking water of at least 51 million Americans.
Yes, there's pharmaceuticals in our water! Stop the presses! Of course there's going to be pharmaceuticals in our water; as long as pharmaceuticals are being used, and probably quite a while after that, there's going to be some drugs in the water. This really isn't all that surprising. And, of course, the dose makes the poison.
But wait! There's more!
Researchers have found that even extremely diluted concentrations of drugs harm fish, frogs and other aquatic species. Also, researchers report that human cells fail to grow normally in the laboratory when exposed to trace concentrations of certain drugs. Some scientists say they are increasingly concerned that the consumption of combinations of many drugs, even in small amounts, could harm humans over decades.
So, even extremely dilute things harm? How dilute are we talking here? Why don't we compare the dilution to how the pharmaceuticals will be diluted in the massive volume of water we consume? We really don't have any point of reference. We don't even know what studies they're referencing, or how many "some scientists" are. We don't know much of anything important.
Following this, they feature a sentence that really states what should have been obvious to them the whole damn time:
Pharmaceutical company officials point out that active ingredients represent profits, so there's a huge incentive not to let any escape. They also say extremely strict manufacturing regulations — albeit aimed at other chemicals — help prevent leakage, and that whatever traces may get away are handled by onsite wastewater treatment.
They really should have stopped there; any leaks from pharma companies can probably be safely assumed to be absurdly small, because they lose profits if they don't keep 'em that way.
And then go on and on and on about "the pharma companies don't test their waste water, though!" They probably never thought of it; if they're keeping the ingredients in, there really isn't a need to.
Of course, it is entirely possible there is a problem with pharmaceuticals in the water; I consider it somewhat unlikely based on my extremely limited knowledge of the subject, but am open to correction. This isn't the way to convince me, though.