How Tap Water May be Affecting Your Hormones

A person holding a glass of tap water

In 2008, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) tested tap water in nine states across the country and found 85 man-made chemicals, including some medications including some medications. Other research has reported traces of various pharmaceuticals in drinking water supplies including: drinking water supplies, including: • Antibiotics • Anticonvulsants • Mood stabilizers • Synthetic hormones (oral contraceptives).

Hormones in water supplies are typically at very low concentrations (ppb or ppt levels). Even extremely diluted  ions of hormone residues can harm aquatic life. Long-term consequences:

  • Cancer: a number of types of cancers are hormone-responsive 
  • Male infertility: Links have been established between reduced sperm count in fish and estrogen in water. Studies in humans are ongoing 
  • Obesity: weight gain has been linked to rising estrogen levels 
  • “Stew Effect”: Potential interactions between trace amounts of chemicals in water

Health risks of exposure to EDCs in drinking water

The presently negligible or low risk of human exposure to EDCs (Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals)  in drinking water should not be neglected. Lifelong water consumption has led to a pharmaceutical exposure level (<10% of a daily medical dose), even after the treatment of drinking water reduced the negligible risk by up to 80%.26 The effects of human exposure to EDCs have not been fully elucidated to date because of the limited availability of epidemiological studies and experimental toxicology studies. The occurrence of EDCs in tap water is an increasing concern, as health impacts could occur with exposure to EDCs.

  • In general, EDCs interfere with the endocrine system, particularly hormone signals, by antagonizing the modes of action and mechanisms of endogenous hormones, especially through nuclear receptors.
  • The disrupted endocrine system thus causes effects in exposed individuals and populations ranging from acute to chronic diseases, namely, epigenetic deregulation, immune effects, metabolic syndromes, reproductive abnormalities, behavioral changes, disrupted fetal development and growth, neurological disorders, and abnormal cell proliferation.

How can I reduce my Exposure to EDCs from Tap Water?

  • Drinking tap water out of a glass will reduce your exposure to BPA and other chemicals in cans and plastic bottles. But tap water can contain a bevy of its own potential hormone disruptors, including residue from birth control pills, according to NRDC’s Drinking Water Project. Running water from the tap through an NSF-certified water filter can, when properly installed and maintained, decrease the level of some endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

Credit: @epagov @nature.research @nrdc_org


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