Opioids found in Puget Sound mussels

Seattle Mussels Test Positive for Opioids

Seattle Mussels Test Positive for Opioids

Every other year, she and her colleagues monitor fish and shellfish from the Puget Sound - specifically herring, English sole, Chinook salmon and most recently mussels. Thus, opioids, antidepressants, the common chemotherapy drug Melphalan - the mussels tested positive for all of them.

Scientists at the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife have found that mussels in Seattle's waters are testing positive for opioids. But as they filter food from the water, mussels may also absorb any chemicals and pollutants floating around them, Live Science reported in 2014.

"What we eat and what we excrete goes into the Puget Sound".

The finding suggests "a lot of people" are taking oxycodone in the Puget Sound, researchers say.

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"We sent 18 samples (of mussels) to a laboratory up in Canada and asked for a suite of pharmaceutical and personal care products", Lanksbury said. Three of locations came back positive for oxycodone, two near Bremerton and Elliot Bay. And the highly addictive drug was only ingested by mussels in three of 18 test sites, described as highly urbanized and not near any commercial shellfish beds.

"What this is telling us is some of this stuff is coming out of our wastewater treatment plants and so we need to do a better job either at controlling the sources or trying to reduce the exposure in the Puget Sound", said Lanksbury.

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. "So you'd have to eat 150 pounds of mussels in that contaminated area to get a minimal dose". But it does pose worrying questions about the health of local fish, who are more responsive to opioids.

Although, for now, at least, there is little chance that an oxycodone-infused mussel will end up on your plate, this new discovery underscores the increasing severity of the opioid epidemic nationwide and its potential effects on the environment. In the process, "they pick up all sorts of contaminants, so at any given time their body tissues record data about water quality over the previous two to four months", the institute explains.

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