US opioid crisis: Mussels off Seattle found with oxycodone in their system
27 May, 2018, 03:32
Scientists used cages to transplant clean mussels from an aquaculture source on Whidbey Island to 18 urbanized locations around Puget Sound.
When scientists from the Puget Sound Institute of the University of Washington-Tacoma tested mussels from three sites near the harbors of greater Seattle, they found traces of oxycodone, a highly-addictive narcotic and one of the most-frequently abused opioids in the US.
Scientists have discovered oxycodone in mussels when testing water for contamination.
"It seems like the prescriptions for opioids are high enough that it's starting to come out in the waters here at least in the really you know, dense urban corridors", Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Jennifer Lanksbury told Global News.
"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.
The Puget Sound Institute researchers said the levels of oxycodone in the mussels were thousands of times lower than the medical dose, and explained the animals likely don't metabolize the drug. 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. "For instance, the juvenile Chinook salmon that are coming down the Duwamish River and into Elliott Bay for rearing are likely being exposed to these same chemicals".
After people consume oxycodone, some of it ends up in the toilet and goes into wastewater.
Small amounts of drugs are deposited in human waste after they're ingested, which wastewater management systems struggle to completely remove, resulting in trace amounts of narcotics being dumped into oceans, according to the outlet. But as they filter food from the water, mussels may also absorb any chemicals and pollutants floating around them, Live Science reported in 2014.
Canadian researchers say similar contaminants are also found in waters in Canada.
Melphalan was present at "levels where we might want to look at biological impacts", scientist Andy James of the Puget Sound Institute said in a statement.
Trace amounts of the opioid were detected in mussels near Bremerton's shipyard and Elliot Bay.
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