An image of a man taking prescription drugs with water

The short answer is yes. But first, let us explain what we mean. When we say drugs, we refer to prescription drugs that your doctor gives you or that you buy over the counter, not the hard stuff. Traces of the prescription drugs we take every day are found in wastewater, groundwater, surface water, and even our household drinking water.


But how do they end up in our water supply, you ask? A few ways: by flushing our prescriptions down the drain, tossing them in the trash, and it leaks into the groundwater at the landfill, or through human and animal waste. Though the particles found in our drinking water are only a trace level (nanograms to low micrograms per liter), it still raises concerns with drinking water regulators, governments, the public, and water suppliers because of its potential risk to human health.


This uneasiness comes from the evidence that prescription drugs have already started affecting aquatic life. Many studies have found that estrogen and chemicals have a feminizing effect on male fish, altering the female-to-male ratio amongst affected species. Other research has discovered that fishes that live downstream from treatment plants had popular antidepressants concentrated in their brain tissue.


Although there are several worldwide efforts to keep pharmaceuticals from finding their way into our water supplies, there’s a way to remove these potentially harmful particles from our drinking water at home. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), water treatment processes like reverse osmosis and ozonation are successfully removing those pesky particles.


Such filtration process is found in the residential filtration systems by Puronics. The way reverse osmosis works is that pollutant-filled water passes through the holes in a semi-permeable mesh. The particles from the contaminants and traces of prescription medication are too large to squeeze through the mesh, leaving only clean, filtered water to pass.


The first step to having pharmaceutical-free water is to take one of the Science of Water’s free water tests. It will inform you of any other surprises lurking in your water and guide us to which filtration system is best for your home.


Below, let’s take a look at a few drugs that a reverse osmosis Puronics filtration system can remove from our drinking water!



Perhaps the most common drugs on this list are ibuprofen acetaminophen. Typically found in every household medicine, these over-the-counter drugs are used as everyday painkillers. Their popularity is the number one reason they’re the most commonly found contaminant in our drinking water.



Although this addition isn’t a prescription drug, most of our bottled medication comes in contact with it. Most commonly known as BPA, this chemical is the source of a lot of fuss. You can find it in consumer plastics like pill bottles, water bottles, and feminine hygiene products. BPA is harmful because it’s an endocrine-disrupting chemical, meaning it’s can create developmental, brain, and immune problems. Potential side effects include asthma, premature delivery, and reduced brain function. The thing is, the longer your medication sits in its container, the greater the chance BPA is leaching into it. When you take your meds, you ingest traces of the BPA. Later on, you use the bathroom, and well, you get the idea.



This mouthful is none other than your run of the mill antibiotic. It’s used to treat bacterial infections like UTIs, bronchitis, and prostatitis. While it may sound like a pleasant medication to have in your system, it could negatively affect if it mixes with any medication currently prescribed to you. Most people who take sulfamethoxazole experience nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and more. All of which could start to affect you as well.



We’re sure you’ve heard this name thrown around a few times in commercials throughout the years. Many doctors prescribe it as an immunosuppressant to treat cancers, including blood, bone, and breast, in addition to treating rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. Side effects of ingesting it are dizziness, hair loss, headache, and swollen gums, among others, which could explain why some water drinkers don’t feel so great after polishing off a glass of water.



This drug, which also goes by Fluoxetine, features side effects like difficulty falling asleep or staying awake, heartburn, loss of appetite, uncontrollable shaking of limbs, and dry mouth. It’s nothing that you’d be too excited about developing just from drinking tap water. Prozac is a highly popular medication used to treat a variety of conditions such as alcoholism, attention-deficit disorder (ADD), borderline personality disorder (BPD), PTSD, obesity, and depression.



High risk for addiction, dependence, and death describes this drug at the center of America’s opioid epidemic. The primary use of oxycodone is to treat high levels of pain after surgery or an accident. When taken in high doses, users can experience respiratory distress and liver damage. As well as people, bay mussels in Washington’s Puget Sound have tested positive for oxycodone due to prescription drugs leaching into water supplies.


Topical Lotions and Creams

An often-overlooked type of medicine is topical creams. It’s the chosen delivery method for hormone therapy, shingles, and skin conditions like eczema or acne. It contains chemicals like ammonia, which can irritate after application. Like personal care items, topical lotions and creams find their way into our water supply when we take baths or showers and wash our hands. The unabsorbed parts of the medication are rinsed off. This type of drug presents a more significant concern when found in our tap water, as it’s not meant to be ingested.




The Science of Water

We don’t yet know the full scope of negative effects that come with drinking water exposed to low doses of pharmaceuticals, but we know one thing; it’s crucial to make sure your water is safe for the whole family to drink. Our team at the Science of Water has been a proud seller and installer of Puronics’ residential filtration systems for many years. The systems use a process called reverse osmosis, backed up by an activated carbon filter to provide you with the cleanest, contaminant- and pharmaceutical-free water you’ve ever tasted.


Interested in learning more? Contact us at (352) 745-7070 or (904) 580-0000.