SEATTLE – Shellfish in Puget Sound, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean along the northwest coast of Washington, tested positive for the prescription opioid oxycodone.
But that was not all, according to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Jennifer Lanksbury. In the midst of a national opioid crisis, opioid could be the most prominent contaminant, but it could be the most worrying.
The mussels also contained four types of synthetic surfactants – the chemicals contained in detergents and cleaners – 7 types of antibiotics, five types of antidepressants, more than one antidiabetic and one chemotherapeutic.
Surfactants are particularly known to have an estrogenic effect on organisms so that they affect the hormone system of some animals, such as the feminization of male fish and the reproduction of female fish before they are finished, estrogens, "explained Lanksbury.
Scientists have not investigated whether mussels are damaged by oxycodone, but the presence of this drug in the mollusc speaks to the large numbers of people in the urban areas around Puget Sound who are taking this medicine, Lanksbury said.
"Many The pharmaceuticals probably come from our wastewater treatment plants. They get the water that comes from our toilets and our homes and our hospitals, and so we take those drugs, and then we put them in our urine so they get into the water treatment plant. "Lanksbury said," Some people unfortunately flush their drugs to the bathroom, and that's a huge source of these drugs. "
" The doses of oxycodone we found in shells are 100 to 500 times lower than for an adult male therapeutic dose, "she said," so you would need to eat 150 pounds of shells from these contaminated areas to get even a small dose. But the very fact that it exists tells us that it enters our waters, at least in urban areas.
The study results indicate that toxic contaminants are entering the food web of the larger Puget Sound, particularly along the shores of Seattle and other urban areas
"What tells us is that some of these substances come from our wastewater treatment plants and we therefore need to do better work to either control the sources or reduce the exposure in the Puget Sound, "said Lanksbury.
The results are from a special small study, and every two years she observes fish and shellfish with her colleagues from the Puget Sound – specifically herring, English sole, chinook salmon, and more recently mussels.
"Mussels have a simpler system than fish, and that makes them great for monitoring," Lanksbury said.
Fish can metabolize some chemicals but the shells do not, so in many cases they are better at revealing impurities in the water – around the water To test, Lanksbury and her team pick up clean shells and place them in cages with antipedator. Volunteers from Citizen Science sponsor the cages at low tide into the inner tidal area of Puget Sound, and the scientists collect them after a few months.
The group began shellfish monitoring in the winter of 2013 and conducted two more studies in 2016 and 2018. 19659004] During its biennial reviews, the group routinely tests samples for a range of contaminants: polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which are flame retardants; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are chemicals produced by burning fossil fuels; chlorinated pesticides, including dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) compounds; and six metals: lead, copper, zinc, mercury, arsenic and cadmium.
Recently, Lanksbury and her colleagues had access to additional funding.
"We decided that it was important for us to look for 'contaminants from emerging countries to worry about," she said, which refers to pharmaceuticals and personal care products – including prescription drugs, detergents, shampoos and microplastic beads – that are increasing in waterways such as the Puget Sound.
"We sent 18 samples (from shells) to a lab in Canada asking for a range of pharmaceutical and personal care products," Lanksbury said. "When this data came back to us, they found we oxycodone in three of these 18 samples. "
One of the samples came from the Seattle coastline, and the other two came from near Bremerton, she said.
For us, this means that the oxycodone problem is specific for the urban waters of the Puget Sound All other sites tested had no oxycodone
"All our species indicate where the contaminant is into the Puget Sound, "she explained. "Most of the shores of Puget Sound are pretty clean, it's these highly urbanized places that we are beginning to worry about about the concentrations of pharmaceuticals and personal care products."
The population of Puget Sound is set to grow in the next 10 to 20 years Doubling for years, Lanksbury noted a high proportion of this population is expected to live on the coast. The urban centers throughout the country are also growing.
"It's a nationwide problem," Lanksbury said.
A US Geological Survey study found measurable levels of one or more drugs in 80% of water samples drawn from 139 streams in 30 states.
Nevertheless, it has hope because the wastewater treatment mechanisms have improved and improvements have been made. And the public will become aware of the problem.
Meanwhile, Seattle residents must "keep in mind that what they do at home, what they lay on their turf, what they flush into the toilet ends up in Puget Sound," she said. "Puget Sound is a jewel in Washington, and if we all work together to keep it clean, we can make great progress."