Mussels In Puget Sound Discovered With Opioids In Their Systems

Henrietta Brewer
May 27, 2018

Scientists took mussels from an aquaculture source that were drug free, and placed them in 18 residential areas around Puget Sound for several months, before teaming up with Puget Sound Institute to re-test the marine life to see if any had been contaminated with opioids, CBS News reported.

A recent study shows mussels in Puget Sound have tested positive for trace amounts of the opioid oxycodone.

He also said the oxycodone was found in amounts thousands of times lower than a therapeutic dose for humans.

The Puget Sound Institute, an accomplice in the examination, said none of the opioid-positive mussels were close business shellfish beds.

"It's telling me there's a lot of people taking oxycodone in the Puget Sound area", said WDFW biologist Jennifer Lanksbury.

"Things like, they can affect the growth of organisms, their hormone systems, their ability to reproduce", she explained.

The mussels were part of the state's Puget Sound Mussel Monitoring Program. When humans ingest opioids, traces of the drug end up in the toilet, CBS News said.

Fish can metabolize some chemicals, but the mussels do not, so in many cases, they are better at revealing contaminants in the water. Scientists believe that Puget Sound salmon and other fish bay could demonstrate the same behavior.

The researchers said the mussels they study typically test positive for other pharmaceutical drugs, as well as illegal drugs such as cocaine, but they hadn't tested positive for opioids until now. The shellfish are filter feeders who gain nourishment from their surroundings, while simultaneously absorbing whatever contaminants are also in the water - making them an ideal barometer for environmental scientists to test water pollution in a given area.

Also in 2016, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated that almost 300lbs (136kg) of pharmaceuticals, personal care products and industrial compounds ended up in the Puget Sound each day, some at high enough concentrations to negatively impact fish. "These are the mussels we use in our analyses".

"Hopefully our data shows what's out there and can get the process started for cleaning up our waters". Mussels sold to hungry consumers are harvested from clean locations and are not obtained from Puget Sound.

People have nothing to worry about when it comes to eating mussels from a restaurant or shop because they come from clean locations., but it's another sign of what's ending up in the water and harming marine life.

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