Are We Causing Sea Life to Become High On Opioids? - P.O.W. Report

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Are We Causing Sea Life to Become High On Opioids?

Mussels off the coast of Seattle test positive for opioids

As more and more American communities grapple with opioid addiction, the human toll of the epidemic has grown in both scope and severity. And now, scientists at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife have found evidence that drug's impact has literally flowed downstream to affect marine life, as well.

Specifically, they used mussels as a barometer of pollution in the waters off Seattle, and discovered that oxycodone is now present enough in the marine environment there for shellfish to test positive.

Since mussels are "filter feeders," they absorb contaminants from their environment into their tissues in a concentrated way. Scientists used cages to transplant clean mussels from an aquaculture source on Whidbey Island to 18 urbanized locations around Puget Sound. Several months later, they pulled those previously uncontaminated mussels back out of the urban waters and, together with the Puget Sound Institute, tested them again.

In three of the 18 locations, the mussels then tested positive for trace amounts of oxycodone. How, you ask?

When humans ingest opioids like oxycodone, they ultimately end up excreting traces of the drugs into the toilet. Those chemicals then end up in wastewater. And while many contaminants are filtered out of wastewater before it's released into the oceans, wastewater management systems can't entirely filter out drugs. Thus, opioids, antidepressants, the common chemotherapy drug Melphalan -- the mussels tested positive for all of them.

Another thing that nobody ever talks about is the impact birth control is having in the water. There are massively elevated levels of estrogen in the water because of this.

Birth control pills contain the female hormone estrogen, and in recent years, some experts have raised concerns about the presence of estrogen and similar compounds in foods and the water supply. The new study may raise those concerns further, though the authors said the findings are preliminary.

"Several studies now have found an association between estrogen exposure and prostate cancer," said study researcher Dr. David Margel, a uro-oncology fellow at the University of Toronto. In this case, he said, "We think this is environmental —[estrogen] goes into the water, into our food chain."

At the same time, Margel said, "We can't establish a cause-and-effect relationship. We definitely don't think the take-home message is women should stop taking the pill."

Birth control pills often contain a type of estrogen called ethinyloestradiol, which women taking the pills excrete in their urine. The hormone ends up in the water supply, or is taken up by plants or animals that use the water, and then passed up the food chain, according to the study.

These are the real problems that actually impact us, yet very few in the MSM want to discuss this:

“Across the board, we don’t have our heads around this problem,” said Emma Rosi, senior scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. And considering America’s voracious appetite for pharmaceuticals—there were 3.7 billion drugs ordered or provided through physician visits alone in 2015—the scope of the problem is unsurprisingly staggering.

Chemical compounds found in pharmaceutical and personal care products are showing up ubiquitously in the nation’s rivers, lakes, groundwater and drinking water—even remote regions of national parks. Up to 80 percent of streams in the U.S. alone are contaminated with chemicals, including pharmaceuticals, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). What’s more, the sheer volume of different persistent compounds found in the environment vastly complicates the regulation and remediation of them. [...]

Some unwanted drugs are flushed down the toilet or tossed into the trash. Hospital waste is another avenue. But while we know how and where pharmaceutical wastes are getting into the environment, we don’t yet know the full extent of the problem in terms of their myriad impacts on delicate ecosystems.

“There’s insignificant research to understand the scope of this issue,” said Rosi. “And I would argue that there’s not enough research funding for scientists to really understand the influence of these compounds.”

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