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Hudson River flooded with micropollutants including insect repellant, pharmaceuticals harmful to aquatic life

Hudson River

(NaturalNews) When researchers out of Cornell University decided to partner with the water quality monitoring group Riverkeeper to test New York's notorious Hudson River for common environmental contaminants, they probably didn't anticipate detecting more than 70 percent of the "micropollutants" for which they routinely look when collecting water samples.

Residues from a shocking 83 different pharmaceuticals, pesticides and personal care products were found in the river's estuaries, a new study explains – the first-of-its-kind to investigate the composition of America's waterways to such a precise degree. Though mostly in trace amounts, the presence of these substances highlights the pervasive nature of many modern chemicals.

After analyzing 24 water samples from eight of the 74 locations where Riverkeeper typically draws vials, two scientists from the Cornell University School of Civil and Environmental Engineering identified a diverse array of chemicals used both industrially and at the consumer level. Included in the find was DEET, a popular insect repellent, as well as codeine, a common pharmaceutical opiate.

Other noxious substances identified in the Hudson River include:

• Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
Atrazine (an agricultural pesticide)
• 2,4-D (a herbicide derived from Monsanto's "Agent Orange" defoliant)
• Oxybenzone (a sunscreen chemical)
• Perfluoroctanoic acid (an industrial polymer used in non-stick cookware)
• Triclosan (an antibiotic chemical used in liquid hand soap)
• Sucralose (artificial sweetener)
• Caffeine (Coffee anyone?)

This PDF document of the study, entitled "Target screening for Micropollutants in the Hudson River Estuary during the 2015 Recreational Season," contains a complete list of the chemicals found in the Hudson River.

As you'll notice, this laundry list of chemicals contains all sorts of fungicides, herbicides, pesticides and pharmaceuticals along the lines of what's previously been identified in research on drinking water, including an Associated Press (AP) investigation that revealed a shocking truth about America's freshwater supplies: many of them are teeming with environmental toxins.

Just because a chemical is present in small amounts doesn't mean it's not harmful

In the new study, researchers took an even closer look at the substances present in what some regulatory bodies might consider to be "inert" amounts – concentrations too small to cause harm. But even at "trace" amounts, these chemicals are triggering imbalances in aquatic life, as well as disrupting and damaging the nervous systems of certain aquatic organisms. This begs the question: what is this cascade of pollutants doing to humans?

"These are compounds the public often asks about as we patrol the river and gather water samples," Dan Shapley, water quality program manager at Riverkeeper said in a statement. "And they're right to ask, because we know that these are important, but largely undocumented categories of pollution that could have impacts on aquatic life or human health. This study gives us some important baseline information."

Damian E. Helbling, one of the study's authors, isn't particularly surprised by the findings, since many of these chemicals are used every single day all across America in alarming amounts. And, pharmaceutical drugs, it's important to note, are routinely excreted and/or flushed down toilets, where they bypass water filtration systems that are incapable of capturing them.

The goal, of course, is to filter out these toxins as much as possible before they reenter the tap or get dumped into waterways like the Hudson. But even more important than this is trying to minimize or eliminate the use of persistent chemicals as much as possible by coming up with safer, more biodegradable alternatives.

One way you can help minimize your own contributions to environmental pollution, at least when it comes to keeping insects away from your body, is to use a DEET-free bug repellent like the Health Ranger's Bugs Away Spray.

Sources for this article include:




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