Puget Sound salmon have picked up a real habit

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS ASIDES & INSIDES -

Advil, Aleve, Be­nadryl, Cipro, Dar­von, Flonase, Lip­i­tor, OxyCon­tin, Paxil, Prozac, Tylenol, Val­ium, Zan­tac, Zoloft. That’s not the in­ven­tory of your lo­cal phar­macy. They’re just some of the buf­fet of drugs found in the tis­sues of ju­ve­nile chi­nook salmon in the Puget Sound, along with co­caine, caf­feine and nico­tine, ac­cord­ing to the Seat­tle Times.

The cul­prit wasn’t an aquatic drug dealer, but rather wastew­a­ter dis­charge. Es­tu­ary wa­ters are close to the out­falls of sewage-treat­ment plants, and the ef­flu­ent sam­pled at the plants con­tained a mix of 81 drugs and per­sonal-care prod­ucts. The lev­els were some of the high­est in the coun­try.

Rea­sons for the ex­treme lev­els are de­bat­able. Jim Meador, an en­vi­ron­men­tal tox­i­col­o­gist at the Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s North­west Fish­eries Sci­ence Cen­ter in Seat­tle, sur­mised that peo­ple in the area use more of the drugs de­tected in the fish. The pro­cesses at the wastew­a­ter treat­ment plants could also be a fac­tor, he added. Sam­ples for 150 com­pounds were an­a­lyzed, and 61% were de­tected in ef­flu­ent, said Meador, lead au­thor of a pa­per on the find­ings pub­lished in En­vi­ron­men­tal Pol­lu­tion.

Re­searchers say that the study could be un­der­re­port­ing lev­els of drugs in wa­ter closer to out­fall pipes and in deeper wa­ter. Fish tested in the Nisqually es­tu­ary near Olympia, Wash., were also found to have high lev­els of chem­i­cals, and those wa­ters re­ceive no di­rect dis­charge from treat­ment plants.

The dis­cov­ery even made its way to the late night com­edy cir­cuit. “The Late Show with Stephen Col­bert” did a bit with “Sammy the Salmon,” a fid­gety fish pup­pet with blood­shot eyes. “If I spent my life swim­ming in wastew­a­ter, I would def­i­nitely need a mood sta­bi­lizer,” Col­bert quipped.

Stephen Col­bert’s bit on

the Puget Sound salmon in­cluded a visit from “Sammy the Salmon.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.