The East River Station in Davenport, Iowa, pushes water back into the Mississippi River after being treated. Water in the pool on the right is to be mixed with treated water before going back into the river, while water in the pool on the left is to continue through the final stages of treatment. Credit: Brittany Robb/IowaWatch

This might be hard to believe but the stuff we flush can affect our drinking water.

Prescription drugs and caffeine are contaminating rivers and streams so they have to be treated to become drinking water. Many of these contaminants affect the human endocrine system, which produces hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, among other functions.

Caffeine and a drug used to regulate blood sugar levels for people with Type 2 diabetes wash down the drain every day to become some of the most common unregulated contaminants in Iowa’s public drinking water, an IowaWatch investigation published in August 2016 revealed.

The presence of these contaminants is miniscule. But federal government officials are concerned about them because the risks of chronic ingestion of these contaminants are unclear, the result of a lack of research to determine potential health risks for humans.

You can hear IowaWatch radio reports each weekend on a statewide network of stations. To find one near you, visit the IowaWatch Connection page.

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