Published: Sun, May 27, 2018
Medicine | By Douglas Stevenson

Scientists find opioids, antibiotics in Puget Sound mussels

Scientists find opioids, antibiotics in Puget Sound mussels

Researchers at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife have discovered trace amounts of opioids in mussels in several locations off the Seattle coast - a telling sign of the severity of the opioid problem that has plagued communities across the country.

"Since mussels are 'filter feeders, ' they absorb contaminants from their environment into their tissues in a concentrated way". According to the Puget Sound Institute, the traces of detected opioids were significantly smaller than a typical human dose of the drug and none of the tested mussels are located near commercial shellfish beds.

Scientists worked with the Puget Sound Institute to analyze the data and discovered three out of 18 locations came back positive for trace amounts of oxycodone.

"If we don't get tougher on drug dealers, we are wasting our time ... and that toughness includes the death penalty", Trump said.

Mussels do not metabolise opioids, but some fish can become addicted.

Seattle Mussels Test Positive for Opioids
Seattle Mussels Test Positive for Opioid

"What we eat and what we excrete goes into the Puget Sound", Jennifer Lanksbury, a biologist at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, told CBS affiliate KIRO-7 in Seattle. Scientists have also identified antibiotics, antidepressants, chemotherapy drugs, and heart medication in mussels' systems. After two or three months, the mussels get switched out and tested for contaminants. They were collected in 2013; Lanksbury said that her team was unable to test for pharmaceuticals before this year due to money constraints. Scientists worry that the oxycodone could affect juvenile chinook salmon and other species in Puget Sound.

"Those are definitely chemicals that are out there in the nearshore waters, and they may be having an impact on the fish and shellfish that live there", Lanksbury said.

Andy James, a research scientist at the PSI, noted in the statement that the levels of opioids detected in the mussels were thousands of times lower than a therapeutic dose in humans and would not be expected to affect the mussels, which don't break down the drug.

It's just one of hundreds of pharmaceuticals that native mussels have absorbed from the waters of Puget Sound.

"We decided it was important for us to start looking for 'contaminants of emerging concern,' " she said.

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