Published: Mon, May 28, 2018
Medical | By Garry George

Scientists find opioids, antibiotics in Puget Sound mussels

Scientists find opioids, antibiotics in Puget Sound mussels

The analysis is part of the state's biennial Puget Sound Mussel Monitoring Program, in which uncontaminated mussels are transplanted into various locations to study pollution levels. They also contain minute amounts of melphalan, a chemotherapy drug and possible carcinogen.

Mussels are an excellent indicator of the environment since they concentrate contaminants into their tissues.

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

State scientists dispersed clean mussels around the Puget Sound and extricated them months after the fact to try things out.

Other chemicals found in Puget Sound waters ranged from pharmaceuticals to illegal substances like cocaine, but scientists have never found opioids in local shellfish until now.

The contamination is likely coming through wastewater treatment plants, she said, adding that the chemicals may be having an impact on fish and shellfish in those areas.

Recent studies show that zebrafish have the same opioid receptors as humans, meaning they can get addicted in the same way - and researchers hope that these fish can be used in studies to find treatments that can help humans eliminate addictions. 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.

Mussels are channel feeders, which imply they channel water for supplements to support themselves. "When that data came back to us, we found oxycodone in three of those 18 samples". Two of the areas were close to the historic naval shipyard district, and the other one was in Elliot Bay near Harbour Island, Seattle.

Lanksbury says it's still safe to eat mussels in areas that aren't urbanized, like the ones served at restaurants and fish markets.

Of 18 areas researchers utilized, three indicated hints of oxycodone.

The population of the Puget Sound is slated to double over the next 10 to 20 years, Lanksbury noted, and a high proportion of that population is expected to live on the shore.

Almost two decades ago, the U.S. Geological Survey conducted a study and found "measurable amounts" of medications in a whopping 80 percent of water samples that were collected from 139 steams across 30 states. And the public is becoming aware of the problem. "The Puget Sound is a jewel in Washington, and if we all work together to keep it clean, we can make great strides".

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