Antibiotics--Are You Drinking Them in Your Tap Water?
By Hardly Waite, Gazette Senior Editor
Bacteria that cause everything from ear infections to
pneumonia are becoming immune to antibiotics. The primary cause is over-use
and misuse by doctors and patients, but significant levels of antibiotics in
water supplies could compound the problem.--CBS Evening News.
When a 15-year-old West Virginia high school student named Ashley Mulroy read an article about antibiotic pollution in European water supplies, she started wondering if the same thing might be happening the the U.S. Ashley, doing something that it has apparently not occurred to U. S. environmental scientists to do, set out to conduct some tests for antibiotics as a school project. With the help of her mom, she took water samples from a variety of locations on the Ohio river near her home. With no trouble at all, she found drugs like Penicillin, Tetracycline and Vancomycin in the river water.
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Her science teacher was so impressed by her work that he encouraged her to pursue the matter and her efforts eventually led to her winning the prestigious Stockholm Junior Water Prize. Her prize-winning essay, "Correlating Residual Antibiotic Contamination in Public Water to the Drug Resistance of Escherichia coli," examines how inefficient wastewater treatment processes can lead to antibiotic contamination in American waterways and, in some cases, progressive resistance among bacteria to those same antibiotics (Penicillin, Tetracycline and Vancomycin, for example) that once controlled them.
Few Americans are aware of the extent of antibiotic contamination of our waters. This is a dark area that regulatory agencies and orthodox science have chosen to ignore. Few Americans know, too, that a full 40%--almost half--of the antibiotics used in the United States do not go to treating human disease but are frivolously given to cattle for the purpose of fattening them rapidly and in the process fattening the profits of industrialized agribusiness.
The irony overwhelms one. We have traded the most potent medical tools ever developed for a few years of enhanced profits for Swift & Co.
To read more about Ashley and her surprising research, go to http://www.marshall.edu/wvas/wvssef/mulroy.htm.