Trending News Today: More Than 250 Contaminants Found in US Water Supplies Pose Health Risks

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) says that although technically legal, contaminants detected in water samples across the nation pose health risks. According to USA Today, Congress enacted the Safe Drinking Water Act to authorize the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set national standards for drinking water. Although the law was put in place to protect the lives of Americans, it has been more than 20 years since the EPA has added a new contaminant to its list of regulated drinking water pollutants. In a recent study, the EWG collected data from drinking water tests performed between 2010 and 2015 at more than 48,000 water facilities. Of 500 unique contaminants, investigators found the presence of 267 in water supplies, with many at levels close to what research has found to pose health risks, despite being legal. Overall, 93 contaminants were linked to an increased risk of cancer, 78 were associated with brain and nervous system damage, 63 were connected to developmental problems in children or fetuses, 38 could cause fertility issues, and 45 were endocrine disruptors, according to USA Today. More than 40,000 water systems had levels of known or likely carcinogens that exceeded health guidelines, and more than 19,000 public work systems had at least 1 detection of lead above 3.8 ppb. The group noted that they are not so much concerned with an individual drinking unfiltered tap water once or twice, but rather the long-term exposure over a lifetime. “Legal doesn’t necessarily mean safe when it comes to drinking water,” Nneka Leiba, director of the Healthy Living Science Program for the EWG, told USA Today. “The main point for us is empowering the people.”

More than 30 of GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) drug-research projects, including 13 clinical programs, have been nixed in an effort to sharpen the company’s research and development operations, reported The Wall Street Journal. GSK stated it now will shift its focus to research on respiratory diseases, cancer, immuno-inflammatory conditions, HIV, and other infectious diseases. Among the priority projects are oncology assets, including 2 that target the novel immune system checkpoint Ox40 and Icos, according to the article.

A combination of 2 new oncology drugs failed to shrink lung cancer tumors during a clinical trial, causing major setbacks for the manufacturer, AstraZeneca, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Mystic trial examined a combination of 2 immuno-oncology drugs designed to boost the immune system’s ability to eradicate cancer cells. Findings from the study showed that the combination therapy was no more efficacious than standard chemotherapy in patients with advanced lung cancer, according to reports.