Home / Environmental News / Gills and Pills — US Fish Testing Positive for Anti-depressants, Plus 80 Other Drugs — NOAA

Gills and Pills — US Fish Testing Positive for Anti-depressants, Plus 80 Other Drugs — NOAA

(RT) — Fish found in Washington’s Puget Sound are tripping on cocaine, Prozac, Advil, Benadryl, and Lipitor. Unfortunately, there is no aquatic drug dealer responsible for it. Instead, the intoxication is the result of tainted discharge water.

Pharmaceutical pollution could be to blame for the many drugs showing up in the tissues of juvenile Chinook salmon. Estuary waters near the sewage treatment plants were found to contain a cocktail of up to 81 different drugs, according to a new study out of the National Oceanie and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

There are several plausible theories about the Puget Sound’s high concentration of drug-infused water. Jim Meador, an environmental toxicologist at the NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, published a study that offered two options.

One possibility is that people in the areas around the Puget Sound use more of the detected drugs. However, it is also likely that the problem lies with the treatment of waste water.

The concentrations in effluent [waste water] were higher than we expected,” Meador said in the Seattle Times, “We analyzed samples for 150 compounds and we had 61 percent of them detected in effluent. So we know these are going into the estuaries.

The connection between the chemicals found in the water and fish was determined after the same substances were found in both juvenile Chinook and staghorn sculpin. The two species have different life cycles, with the sculpin staying in the same body of water while the Chinook migrate from the Sound to the sea and back again. For both species to be exposed to the same chemicals suggests a shared habitat was affected.

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Salmon are an indicator species, meaning that they act as a warning system for environmental problems due to their sensitivity to changes in their living conditions.

Drugs that humans take can get into the water in a few different ways. The most obvious way is that when a person discontinues using a drug, they may flush the leftover supply down the toilet, with the effluent not properly filtered by sewage treatment plants. On other occasions, when a human takes a pill, their body may not absorb all of the drug and will eliminate the remaining amount in urine which then (ideally) will be flushed down the toilet.

Human drugs leeching into the rivers are causing problems for fish. In the heavily polluted portions of the Potomac River near Washington DC, intersex fish have been found. Scientists believe this is the result of estrogen from birth control and menopausal medication finding its way into the water.

It gets worse for fish exposed to anti-anxiety drugs. In a study from the Scientific American, perch that were placed in clean water were less aggressive than fish that had been exposed to benzodiazepines – calming drugs, such as Valium or Xanax. In addition, the fish that were exposed to benzodiazepines explored more dangerous areas, ate faster, and put themselves in riskier situations.

Although brave fish may not sound like a problem, the change in their behavior could spell bad news for their ecosystem. For example, while increased eating speed sounds harmless, if perch eat more zooplankton at a faster rate, then there is less zooplankton to eat algae. This, in turn, causes algae blooms. In addition, more fearless fish will expose themselves to more predators, which could then impact the perch population.

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The EPA is attacking this problem by adding various pharmaceuticals to a watch list of potentially harmful contaminants that warrant investigation. The World Health Organization is also calling on water treatment plants to seek methods to improve wastewater treatment so as to remove drugs and contaminants from their main source of entry: effluent water.

For those anxious about the effects of their anxiety medication, scientists have some advice to reduce the pharmaceutical footprint at home, the most obvious of which is to not flush unused pills down the toilet or pour them down the drain. Instead, locate a community based drug take-back program. More and more local governments have been encouraging drug take-back days since a federal law went into effect in 2010. For more information, speak to a local pharmacist.

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  • They’ll probably start forming government’s and locking up those that won’t accept it as being normal.

  • They have no way to filter it out of your drinking water nor do they look for it. You are ingesting drugs of all kinds on a daily basis. Surprise.

  • Test it on humans (on death row that deserve it just saying) why the fuck you testing fish that almost has nothing in common with humans ? Fucken ridiculous.

    • Lol wut

    • Wait are they eating the pills ppl flush lol

    • ??? The drugs are being peed out by humans and fed into the oceans.

    • Yeah the “testing” was checking fish for pharmaceuticals

    • They werent testing anything ON fish, they were testing what the fish tested positive FOR.

      you do realize that ALL SORTS OF DRUGS, from coke to Prozac, are in your everyday tap water, right?

    • That’s not fair to the innocent !

  • And when there is a HUGE fish DIE OFF ; They Mostly committed suicide !

    • Just wait until they get ahold of a gun!

    • Before they get guns , they’ll all be killed by the EPA .

    • Totally made me think the Simpsons movie….. Hahaha


  • So many people take this shit its probably being pissed down the drain of every house in America.

    • That’s exactly what it is. That and people dumping their unused or unwanted drugs down the drains too

    • Not mine ! I read a PDR 46 years ago !

  • Antidepressants are causing the fish to be violent. Does no one else see the irony in that?!?

    • They “may also cause suicidal thoughts”

    • No wonder whales and dolphins are beaching themselves

  • Just to remind you; Fishes have emotions, and from time to time, they also need anti-depressant to cope with stress, family and kids.

  • It’s happening to humans so why not fish!

  • Should’ve switched of marijuana years ago

  • A huge reason why I don’t eat sea food ! On top of the radiation!!

  • Another reason not to eat fish.

  • so now you can smoke fish literally

  • Nothing new here, been ignored for years, like synergistic effects on wildlife.

  • at least the fish aren’t depressed

  • A study was done & the news isn’t good, it said by 2044 nearly all marine life will be dead due to pollutant’s in the water 🙁

  • Imagine that!!!

  • they should

  • Treated non potable discharge… medicine always gets by the waste water process

  • Eat them up yum fish heads fish heads rollie Polly fish heads.

  • Attacking each other and more aggressive, just like the humans

  • Well i think we have found the cause for finding dory


  • Crystal M. Gutierrez

  • Going to have to make eating freshwater fish as illegal as weed.

  • If it is not good for the fish then it is not good for us to use it.

  • funny that – exactly why I dont like taking any pill at all until im screaming in pain

  • The drugs are getting in the water because of several reasons. 1 being the improper disposal of the drugs down the toilet. And the scariest reason is threw our waste systems that treat the waste water ( but can’t get out the drug molecules) which means SO MANY people in America are on these types of drugs. How does it effect them ?

  • Probably administered direct into the ocean intentionally for means of dulling people’s senses in order of complete control

  • That’s crazy, no pun intended!

  • Happy Fish 😀

  • Just in case you won’t let them medicate you directly…

  • Marc Titre

  • LarryW

    Junk science based on just several grab samples? Give me a break, this is a hit piece probably subsidized by big Pharma. If this was real journalism the writers would be tackling the real issue. Go after the big pharmaceutical companies instead of the wastewater workers trying to clean up their mess.

  • Wow! How many more times are we going to concoct prescription drugs that are toxic from the start of manufacturing, while they are being used, and god only knows how far and what effects these drugs have after being put into water.

  • America not just drugging children and livestock but now all wildlife ! Sick world

  • John Muthukat

    I see it as the ‘Gifts’ of Industrial Civilization — and the accelerating supply of free poisons feeding on themselves