Back to the Bottle

11 03 2008

By Jill Ettinger

Twenty-four American cities (as investigated by the AP) revealed that municipal drinking water tested positive for a number of medications, from antibiotics to heart medication. While the levels detected appear far below those of what is considered to be medical dosage, no one really knows the effects of long-term exposure, or how these random-residual cocktails interact in humans or wildlife.

Or, maybe the answer has been right in front of us all along.

We try hard in America. We may grit our teeth and smile at an administration that has been lying to its constituents from day one, but we hang on to that precious American Dream. We believe we have an inherent freedom on this soil, even though most of have no idea what true freedom really means.

We buy into a collective illusion of “living the good life” as dictated on car commercials and by credit card companies. We sit back and watch our children’s bodies morph into high-fructose-corn-syrup-trans-fat-sludge-balls. Heck, let’s be real about it, many parents willingly numb their children with sugar and junk food just to make their own lives more bearable. It’s easier to let the marketing prowess of Coca Cola and McDonald’s win than fight an eight-year-old over eating spinach. Yes, how free we are, America.

All the while as we sit back and enjoy disconnected lives, we thank the heavens above that at least we have our health. Or, more accurately, our health care system. We justify their impulse to keep us hooked on drugs for questionable conditions. We ignore the fact that hospital-borne illnesses and accidents kill more people than most other causes combined. (Currently doctor- and hospital-caused errors account for the third-highest amount of deaths in America, behind heart disease and cancer.)

Around the world, America is hated and laughed at. Our government has corrupted our image so obtusely that individual character and personality is a distant second to our unfortunate designation as gas-guzzling, war-supporting sycophants. While it may be depressing to think about being so hated for reasons based on a collective impression rather than our own fortitude, it’s also easy to forget about the rest of the world. We are insulated, wallowing in our stars and stripes all the way to the shopping mall.

If you are wondering what all my ranting about America’s ersatz freedom and negative image has to do with pharmaceutical contamination, then maybe you’re drinking too much tap water. Maybe things really are as bad as they seem. That doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t change, but let’s stop pretending we’re safe. Let’s stop pretending that an anti-abortion president who has been killing thousands of his own barely-adult men and women in a war for oil and money is true to his people. That’s not saying he’s responsible for such atrocities as unsafe drinking water, but he certainly is perpetuating it. And in all likelihood, so will the next administration, Democratic or otherwise. Why? Because people are subdued. And when we’re serving the few, the proud, the filthy rich, we’re rewarded with employee picnics and Fourth of July firework displays. There’s your freedom America.

Just look at how they have us playing right into the pharm-tap. Concerns over unclean and extra-fluoridated water sent people to purer sources a la plastique-bottles. It may have cost more and caused more waste, but at least we knew it was cleaner than what was coming out of the tap. Enter the greenwashing hypocrisy of the last eighteen months and the tap was back. So we traded in our bottled water for organic sheets and a Prius. Strange how we seem to find the answer to protecting our environment and living a more sustainable life in buying more stuff.

In theory, the tap is just about the best invention ever: Water in our homes, in multiple rooms no less, at our absolute convenience. Believe it or not, there are still people in this world walking for miles to fill dirty buckets with questionably pure water. And when I say “questionably pure,” I mean that it may or may not kill you. Our water just puts you in a nice funky subservient haze. (Actually, kind of like a“living dead” state.)

Sure the body is resilient and adaptable. So are pharmaceuticals. It’s kind of like one of those unsolved mysteries. What will happen to humans that continue to drink drugged water? As this contamination has likely been going for several decades, it seems the answer is incredibly obvious.

Should we not drink the water? Now that’s unrealistic. We still shower in it anyway, absorbing its invisible stronghold through our skin. Sure drinking cleaner sources will reduce our exposure to pharmaceuticals, but many bottled waters are just glorified purified tap water. And according to the investigation, the purification process does not eliminate the drugs.

It seems as if it’s time for radical evolution. If our water is drugged, then the food grown with it is drugged too. It’s the moisture in the air we breathe. It’s spilling into our oceans and rivers.  I’ve never noticed it before, but doesn’t earth kind of look like a giant blue pill?

So either the human will and inherent need for freedom can muster enough strength and adaptability to push out through the oppressive inebriants, or we’ll just numb out even more.  I guess it’s nice that we still have options.




2 responses

11 03 2008

First quote that I feel is appropriate for your writing!
Be Healthy
“exercising daily to stay healthy
and I rarely drink water out the tap, cause it’s filthy”

Second Quote
Mos Def
New World Water
“New York is drinkin it (New World Water)
Now all of California is drinkin it (New World Water)
Way up north and down south is drinkin it (New World Water)
Used to have minerals and zinc in it (New World Water)
Now they say it got lead and stink in it (New World Water)
Four carbons and monoxide
Push the water table lopside
Used to be free now it cost you a fee “

31 03 2008

Here’s some interesting information that I found out about the drugs found in our tap water:
According to the U.S. EPA, the vast majority of these compounds are Synthetic Organic Chemicals (SOCs) and/or Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs). You should look for filters that are certified for VOCs, THMs and Chloroform as these are representative of the vast majority of prescription drugs. You can check out information on certified filters at:

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