Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Seattle Mussels Test Positive for Opioid

Researchers say mussels are filter feeders meaning they absorb contaminants from the surrounding water into their tissue Seattle Mussels Test Positive for Opioids
Steve Townsend | 27 May, 2018, 03:29

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.

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 doses of oxycodone that we found in mussels are like 100 to 500 times lower than you would need for an adult male therapeutic dose", she said.

In addition to oxycodone, scientists found high levels of the chemotherapy drug Melphalan - a potential carcinogen - in the mussels. "So you'd have to eat 150 pounds of mussels in that contaminated area to get a minimal dose", she told NBC affiliate KING-5.

Bay mussels in Washington's Puget Sound have tested positive for trace amounts of oxycodone, providing more evidence that the opioid prescription medication is truly ubiquitous.

"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.

Seattle Mussels Test Positive for Opioids
Seattle Mussels Test Positive for Opioid

"So to us, that says that the oxycodone problem is specific to the urban waters of the Puget Sound".

While mussels likely don't metabolize drugs like oxycodone, and thus wouldn't necessarily be physically harmed by the presence of it in their tissues, studies show that fish are not so lucky. That said, it is concerning for fish, especially threatened species like salmon.

Scientists determined that the slew of medications are passed into the Puget Sound through discharge from wastewater treatment plants.

Researchers in Washington discovered trace amounts of opioids in mussels off Seattle's coast.

The concentrations were thousands of times lower than those that would affect humans, research scientist Andy James of the Puget Sound Institute said in a statement, and weren't in areas where edible mussels are harvested-even in the best of circumstances, no one wants to eat an urban mussel.

"Hopefully our data shows what's out there and can get the process started for cleaning up our waters", Lanksbury said. Penn Cove mussels are placed at sites all around the Sound for three months, during which they soak up whatever's in the water.

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