Opioids are starting to be found in mussels near Canadian waters

May 27, 2018, 03:28
Opioids are starting to be found in mussels near Canadian waters

Instead, they were used specifically to measure levels of pollution in the waters of Puget Sound, according to a May 9 statement from the Puget Sound Institute (PSI) at the University of Washington, Tacoma.

The west coast of the United States -and other communities across the country- continue to struggle with the devastating impact of opioid addiction, with the problem so bad the region's mussel population is now testing positive for the substance.

"The doses of oxycodone that we found in mussels are like 100 to 500 times lower than you would need for an adult male therapeutic dose", she said. Thus, opioids, antidepressants, the common chemotherapy drug Melphalan - the mussels tested positive for all of them.

KIRO-TV reported this week that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife obtained clean mussels from Penn Cove on Whidbey Island and put them in different areas to test for water contamination. "They receive the water that comes from our toilets and our houses and our hospitals, and so these drugs, we're taking them, and then we're excreting them in our urine so it gets to the wastewater treatment plant in that way", Lanksbury said.

Researchers are finding similar drugs in juvenile chinook salmon. They were collected in 2013; Lanksbury said that her team was unable to test for pharmaceuticals before this year due to money constraints. However, the presence of this drug in the mollusk speaks to the high number of people in the urban areas surrounding the Puget Sound who take this medication, said Lanksbury.

The mussels were found in three out of 18 test sites from a highly urbanized area.

The Puget Sound Institute notes that the amounts of opioids detected were thousands of times smaller than a typical human dose. "You wouldn't want to collect [or eat] mussels from these urban bays", James said. Department of Fish and Wildlife regularly places mussels raised in controlled, pollution-free environments at 18 set locations around Puget Sound, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean.

Andy James, who assisted with the study, said it's unlikely mussels can metabolize the drugs, but researchers are concerned about the potential for the impact of the drug on fish, which are know to respond to opioids. After two or three months, the mussels get switched out and tested for contaminants.

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