Fish Polluted with Human DrugsMar 26, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
We know all sorts of human medications have found their way into our water. It should come as no surprise that pharmaceuticals have now been found to be contaminating fish, further proving that our environment is in jeopardy and pointing to an additional route in which medications can work their way into our bodies. In the first study of its kind, fish studied near water treatment plants have tested positive for a variety of human medications and other contaminants, the Associated Press (AP) is reporting.
The testing was conducted near wastewater treatment plants around five cities, and the findings have prompted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct similar research in over 150 locations, reported Red Orbit. The study revealed that the fish contained seven different pharmaceuticals including medications to treat high blood pressure, allergies, high cholesterol, and psychiatric issues, said Natural News. The tests also revealed that the fish were contaminated with two chemicals most commonly used to artificially scent soaps.
Natural News reported that the study—funded with a $150,000 EPA grant—was conducted by Baylor University researcher Bryan Brooks, and published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. The research looked at fish in Phoenix, Arizona; Dallas, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Orlando, Florida. Because of its relative distance from highly populated areas, baseline testing of fish from New Mexico’s Gila River Wilderness Area revealed no such contaminants, said Natural News. Natural News also reported that the results further prove that pharmaceuticals have created a significant chemical pollution source in this nation’s waterways and clearly pose a serious threat to the environment.
Drug residues in water supplies are generally flushed into sewers and waterways through human excretion; however, many slip through sewage and drinking water treatment plants. Natural News explained that flushing pills is standard operating procedure at the nations’ hospitals and there are no safety tests currently performed on drugs in water supplies and waterways. The researchers note that miniscule levels of such residues can cause harm to aquatic species such as fish and frogs, said the AP, pointing out that the animals are under constant contamination in their environments.
This issue has been the focus of an ongoing AP investigation that revealed late last year that trace amounts of pharmaceuticals were present in drinking water supplies with about 46 million Americans being affected by the contamination. The AP investigation also found that many communities do not test for drugs in drinking water and those that do often fail to tell customers they have found medications, including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers, and sex hormones. As of late last year, the AP reported that medications were found in drinking water supplies in 24 major metropolitan areas.
The prior report also noted that, at that time, water providers are not required to test for pharmaceuticals; the EPA’s budget for the testing of endocrine disruptors in America’s waterways was cut by 35 percent; and the vast majority of U.S. cities have not tested drinking water, including the single largest water provider in the country, New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which delivers water to nine million people.