Even the sealife in the United States is testing positive for opioids now

Modesto Morganelli
Mag 26, 2018

"It's telling me there's a lot of people taking oxycodone in the Puget Sound area".

The trace amounts of oxycodone likely haven't affected the mussels, which don't appear to metabolize the opioid ― but they could affect fish.

Scientists at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife have found trace amounts of oxycodone in the Puget Sound using a study involving mussels.

The west coast of the United States -and other communities across the country- continue to struggle with the devastating impact of opioid addiction, with the problem so bad the region's mussel population is now testing positive for the substance.

"We found antibiotics, we found antidepressants, chemotherapy drugs, heart medications and also oxycodone", biologist Jennifer Lanksbury, who led the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife study, told K5 News.

As the USA continues to grapple with a widespread opioid epidemic, alarming research from Seattle indicates that the local population is consuming so much oxycodone that it's seeping into the local water supply.

The Institute reported that the amount of oxycodone found in the tainted mussels was thousands of times lower than a therapeutic dose for humans.

Still, the discovery of opioid-positive shellfish in Puget Sound is a stark new milestone in the epidemic, showing that enough humans are hooked on these life-altering drugs for the trace chemicals they excrete to register in other species in our coastal waters.

They deposited mussels into 18 locations. 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.

She says mussels at a restaurant or store are healthy to eat because they come from clean locations. 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.

"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. Zebrafish, commonly used for research, have apparently learned to dose themselves with opioids.

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