Published: Sun, May 27, 2018
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Scientists find opioids, antibiotics in Puget Sound mussels

Scientists find opioids, antibiotics in Puget Sound mussels

"What we eat and what we excrete goes into the Puget Sound", a biologist known as Jennifer Lanksbury at Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, informed the CBS News associate KIRO.

Researchers at Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife have discovered that mussels in the Seattle's waters are trying positive for the opioids.

Andy James, a research scientist at the PSI, noted in the statement that the levels of opioids detected in the mussels were thousands of times lower than a therapeutic dose in humans and would not be expected to affect the mussels, which don't break down the drug.

The Puget Sound Institute, a partner in the study, said none of the opioid-positive mussels were near commercial shellfish beds. 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.

There's enough opioids in Elliott Bay for mussels to register for that when they're put in the water. In Puget Sound, off the western coast of Washington state, scientists have discovered marine life contaminated with oxycodone.

Fish can metabolize some chemicals, but the mussels do not, so in many cases, they are better at revealing contaminants in the water.

Fish and Wildlife said testing mussels for prescription drugs was a one-time study, but it will look for more funding to see what's happening to the water over time.


"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 told the news station.

The WDFW, along with a team from the Puget Sound Institute, analyzed the mussels after leaving them in the water for a period of time, and the researchers were stunned to find them polluted with oxycodone.

"Opioid" is pretty high on the list of now-very-common words that diminish the potency of language and make everyone sound like a machine. Mussels sold to hungry consumers are harvested from clean locations and are not obtained from Puget Sound.

"We sent 18 samples (of mussels) to a laboratory up in Canada and asked for a suite of pharmaceutical and personal care products", Lanksbury said.

Two were near Bremerton's shipyard and one was in Elliot Bay near Harbor Island in Seattle. All of the other areas tested did not have oxycodone.

"Hopefully our data shows what's out there and can get the process started for cleaning up our waters", she said.

Every other year, the department specifically monitors herring, English sole, Chinook salmon and mussels for contaminants.

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