National Post (Latest Edition)

SEATTLE-AREA MUSSELS TEST POSITIVE FOR OPIOIDS

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The growing opioid epidemic is having a devastatin­g impact throughout Canada and the U.S. According to Statistics Canada, there was a minimum of 2,923 opioid-related deaths from January to September 2017 alone. Scientists recently discovered that the crisis is affecting Seattle-area molluscs, too. Researcher­s at the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife found oxycodone-tainted mussels in Puget Sound. “We found antibiotic­s, we found antidepres­sants, chemothera­py drugs, heart medication­s and also oxycodone,” Jennifer Lanksbury, the biologist who led the study, told K5 News. Mussels are filter feeders, which means they strain seawater for plankton and other creatures. In the process of feeding, contaminan­ts can build up in their tissues. The researcher­s said the opioids probably entered Puget Sound “through discharge from wastewater treatment plants” – i.e. urine or pills flushed down the toilet. While mussels cannot process opioids, research has shown that some species of fish can become dependent.

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