Flushed Away

"Between cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and other sources," says John Spatz, commissioner of Chicago's department of water management, "there are 80,000 potential combinations of chemicals." It's impossible to keep our drinking supply safe from a gusher like that. Wastewater from homes gets treated at sewage plants, but it's never possible to remove every trace of drugs. What's more, sewage pipes break, septic tanks overflow, and in some parts of the U.S. "straight-piping" — which sends untreated sewage flowing directly into surface water — is still practiced. One way or another, the drugs find their way back to us.''
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