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August 14, 2004

Prozac drinking water myth debunked

Does your drinking water have Prozac in it? No, says the Guardian's aptly-named Ian Sample.

Last week, it was widely reportted that Britain's Environment Agency had detected Prozac "in the drinking water." Some sources claimed that the contamination was so widespread as to constitute covert mass medication. As it turns out, Environment Agency officials never tested the drinking water for Prozac. They attribute the drinking water claim to a Liberal Democratic MP named Norman Baker. Baker appears to have pulled the claim out of his ass, so to speak. Baker's research extrapolated from prescription patterns and drug residue levels in untreated sewage and ground water (not drinking water).

Raw sewage contains traces of all kinds of drugs, but there is no reason to suspect that Prozac persists in treated water:

"There is no research that shows Prozac is in water. There's no analytical data at all," says Tony Lloyd, who runs the water research programme at the Drinking Water Inspectorate. The drug's chances of remaining intact through someone's body, the sewers and then the water treatment system, which is designed to break down persistent pesticides, are negligible, he says. "Prozac is a biodegradable molecule, and while you would expect people to be excreting it and you'd expect it to be in the sewers, you wouldn't expect it to get through sewage treatment."

[Via Apothecary's Drawer.]

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