Massachusetts Daily Collegian

STAR Fellowship makes UMass’ water safer


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By: Emily Reynolds                     

 

Remember last spring when there were a whole lot of stories about how the water we’re all drinking is contaminated with different pharmaceutical drugs? There are antibiotics, anti-depressants, pain medications and a whole myriad of other drugs that make their way from human bodies to the water supply.

It turns out that there are enough drugs in the water to actually concern scientists about what kind of effect it will have on the ecosystem, including humans, plants and animals.

Luckily, there are lots of people working on this problem, and one of them happens to be University of Massachusetts graduate student Kirsten Studer. Studer is getting $37,000 a year from the Environmental Protection Agency’s STAR fellowship to study estrogen in the water supply.

Studer is part of a larger group from the civil and environmental engineering department, which is studying drugs in the water.

While each individual drug in the water may not be harmful, the interaction between drugs can cause a lot of problems. Estrogen can screw up all of the hormones and glands that go along with puberty, and can cause cancer.            

That is why Studer is not just studying what the estrogen does, but also how to get it out of the water supply without doing any more damage.

So, next time there’s a glass of water sitting on the counter, think of all the drugs that could be going into the body by mistake, even if it is filtered by Brita.

Emily Reynolds can be reached at [email protected]

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