Good morning and good Friday. I thought we would end the week with a little Larry Bird action so let’s head over to Antonelli’s Pond. I was cruising by in the early afternoon when I noticed this magnificent specimen in the tree. Then I saw the hawk. He was kind enough to let me shoot him from all different angles. Love those talons wrapped around the branch in the third shot-this is one talonted, regal bird. To me, this is the true Tony Hawk experience. And in my salute to baseball’s spring training, let me say that a hawk is as good as a hit.
I shot this great blue heron about a quarter mile away at an open field on Delaware Avenue. I haven’t seen a neck like that since I had that dream about Ichabod Crane. This fascinating looking bird has a wing span greater than Orlando’s Dwight Howard. I wish I had done a better job framing these in-flight shots. Then again, I also wish every day was Saturday.
Speaking of wishes, here’s a story that I perhaps wish I hadn’t read. An Associated Press investigation shows that a vast array of pharmaceuticals, including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, auntie mame, mood stabilizers and sex hormones have been found in drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans. To be sure, the concentrations of these pharmaceuticals are tiny, measured in quantities of parts per billion or trillion, far below the levels of a medical dose. I believe the Doobie Brothers first brought this issue to light in their 1975 singles hit “Black Water.”
The presence of so many prescription drugs and over the counter medications like ibuprofen in our drinking water is heightening worries of the long-term consequences to human health. You mean, we might want to be a tad concerned about consuming about a small amount of these drugs over, let’s say a half century? All of sudden, Mountain Dew looks like a health drink. Quickly, somebody get Dr. Pepper on the phone.
In the course of the five-month-inquiry, the AP discovered that drugs have been detected in the drinking water supplies of 24 major metropolitan areas, from Southern California to Northern New Jersey, from Detroit to Louisville, KY, basically from sea to shining sea. So how do the drugs get in the water? People take pills. The bodies absorb some of the medication but the rest of it passes through and is flushed down the toilet. Now I am starting to get pissed off. The wastewater is treated before it is discharged into reservoirs, rivers, emerson, lakes and palmer. Then, some of the water is cleansed again at drinking water treatment plants and piped to consumers. But most of the treatments do not remove all the drug residue.
And while researchers do not yet understand the exact risks from decades of persistent exposure of random combinations of low levels of pharmaceuticals, recent studies, which have gone virtually unnoticed by the general public, have found alarming effects on human cells, wildlife and the summer stock theatre goers. In the words of Dr. David Carpenter, Director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University of New York at Albany, “We know we are being exposed to other people’s drugs through our drinking water, and that can’t be good.” And I always thought reality was for people who couldn’t handle drugs.
Here are some of the highlights of the investigation. Officials in Philadelphia said testing there discovered a new crack in the Liberty Bell and 56 pharmaceuticals or byproducts in treated drinking water, including medicines for pain, infection, high cholesterol, asthma, epilepsy, mental illness, heart problems and the heebie jeebies. Anti-epileptic and anti-anxiety medications were detected in a portion of the drinking water for 18.5 million people in Southern California. Further investigation showed that most of this was a result of waste water from actors, actresses and TV agents. A sex hormone was detected in San Francisco’s drinking water. Not surprisingly, it was discovered in the notorious Mitchell Brothers theatre on O’Farrell Street.
In the U.S., the problem isn’t confined to surface water. Pharmaceuticals also permeate aquifers deep underground, the source of 40 percent of the nation’s water supply. Federal scientists who drew water in 24 states from aquifers near contaminant sources such as landfills, animals feed lots and Foot Locker stores found minuscule levels of hormones, antibiotics, dark chocolate and other drugs.
Perhaps it’s because Americans have been taking drugs and flushing them unmetabolized or unused in growing amounts. Over the past five years the number of U.S. prescriptions rose 12 percent to a record 3.7 billion, while non-prescription drug purchases held steady at 3.3 billion. The amount of use of illegal drugs was not available at this time but remember, in the words of our president, the war is not affecting the economy. Had to throw in a Bush shot.
Some drugs including widely used cholesterol fighters, tranquilizers and anti-epileptic medications resist modern drinking water and wastewater treatment processes. God bless those drug makers. I salute their dream of having everyone living in harmony on statin island. Research shows that pharmaceuticals are also damaging wildlife across the nation and around the globe. Male fish are being feminized, creating egg yolk proteins, a process usually restricted to females. Think about that the next time you see a mackerel in a tube top. The documented health problems in wildlife is disconcerting to researchers, scientists and the housewives of Orange County .
So, you’re probably thinking, so what’s the good news? Well, waking up feeling healthy, the western conference of the NBA and bottled water. For now, I’m just going to down a couple of aspirin that will hopefully stabilize my mood so I can convulse in laughter while watching the comedy classic “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.” Enjoy the birds, have a tremendous sports weekend and make sure you stay out of the drinking water for at least a half hour after eating.