By Barbara Kessler

Get a little queasy pouring yourself a nice cool glass of potentially mind-altering agua this week? The drinking water investigation by the Associated Press, which found traces of many medicines – including tranquilizers and mood drugs — in water supplies across the country, has apparently left an aftertaste in several quarters.

In response to the weekend report, the governor of Illinois and the New York City Council have announced they want more information on the quality of their drinking water.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich has ordered a screening of the state’s water sources and will work with local authorities to test the city water in Chicago, which was one of the large cities cited as not routinely testing its water in the AP story.

The AP series uncovered trace amounts of heart medications, hormones, mood-leavening and cholesterol -lowering drugs in water supplies from the North East to Southern California. Though it was unclear how dangerous these chemicals are to human health (and there was no suggestion that the drugs were present in high enough quantities to cause any immediate danger or psychedelic effects), the story reported long term harm to fish in some contaminated waters.

In New York City, where the AP found traces of several medicines in the city’s upstate water sources, the City Council has planned a hearing for April 3.

Meanwhile, the Senate will hold hearings called by Sens. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. In addition, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., has asked the Environmental Protection Agency for full disclosure on “pharmaceuticals in our water.”

In a story about the hearings, the Washington Post tried to determine the degree of threat from the traces of drugs. Experts they interviewed said they wouldn’t tell anyone not to stop drinking municipal water because of the contaminants, but also viewed the problem as a bellwether. One expert likened the situation to the proverbial canary in the mine, saying the findings are an alert about the impurity of our water supplies.

More information, see the AP’s original piece.

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