Researchers have detected pharmaceuticals and personal care products in fish tissue from 5 cities across the U.S. — Chicago, Dallas, Orlando, Fla., Phoenix, and West Chester, Pa., near Philadelphia. And since only those 5 cities were tested, you can bet the same research results will manifest in every major American city across the nation; that explains why the Environmental Protection Agency is expanding similar research to more than 150 locations.
The study was conducted by Baylor University researchers in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency as part of an EPA pilot study to monitor pharmaceuticals and personal care products in fish from U.S. waterways.
Researchers focused on fish caught from rivers where wastewater treatment plants release treated sewage; the pharmaceutical residues included drugs used to treat high blood pressure, cholesterol, allergies, depression and bipolar disorder. There are no guidelines or federal testing standards for pharmaceuticals or most personal care products in wastewater.
“The average person hopefully will see this type of a study and see the importance of us thinking about water that we use every day, where does it come from, where does it go to? We need to understand this is a limited resource and we need to learn a lot more about our impacts on it,” said Bryan Brooks, the study’s co-author and a Baylor University researcher and professor.
The Associated Press reports trace concentrations of pharmaceuticals are in drinking water provided to at least 46 million Americans.
According to Underwater Times News Service, the Baylor researchers tested fish fillets and liver tissue for 24 different human medications. The researchers also tested fish fillets for 12 chemicals found in personal care products.
The study results revealed:
* The residue of seven pharmaceuticals and two personal care products was present in fish at all five effluent-dominated river sites. In many cases, multiple compounds were found in the same fish.
* For the first time, gemfibrozil, used to treat high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, was found in wild fish livers.
* No pharmaceutical compounds or personal care product chemicals were detected in any fish collected at the reference stream in New Mexico.
* Diphenhydramine, an over-the-counter antihistamine also commonly used as a sedative in non-prescription sleep aids and motion sickness; diltiazem, a drug for high blood pressure; carbamazepine, a treatment for epilepsy and bipolar disorder; norfluoxetine, the active metabolite of the antidepressant fluoxetine; and sertraline, an antidepressant, also were detected in this study, confirming results of previous projects by the Baylor researchers.
* Galaxolide and tonalide, both fragrances used in soap and other personal care products, were found in fish fillet tissue from all five effluent-dominated river sites. The concentrations in the fish tissue for these fragrances were the highest of all compounds tested.
“We found the highest concentrations and frequencies of compounds in the fish livers but considering that the liver is the primary site of metabolism for xenobiotics in fish, as in humans, this result is logical.”said Chambliss, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Baylor.
Scientific literature indicates antidepressant accumulation in fish may cause certain behavioral changes, which impact aggression, mating and other behaviors necessary for fish survival, reports Underwater Times.
Dr. Brooks downplayed any harm to humans claiming a person would have to eat hundreds of thousands of fish dinners to get a single therapeutic dose. But human exposure to these pharmaceuticals isn’t just from fish, it’s from our drinking water too, as the Associated Press points out. And Brooks admitted researchers found even small concentrations of pharmaceutical residues can harm frogs, fish and other aquatic species.
It’s painfully clear neither Dr. Brooks — or any other researcher for that matter — has a clue what long-term effects exposure to these pharmaceuticals and chemicals have on humans. How could they? They just completed the research, which is why — as AP writer Martha Mendoza points out — the EPA has called for additional studies about the impact on humans of long-term consumption of minute amounts of medicines in drinking water. Limited laboratory studies, reports Mendoza, have shown that human cells failed to grow or took unusual shapes when exposed to combinations of some pharmaceuticals found in drinking water.
- Traces of pharmaceuticals found in fish (isiria.wordpress.com)
- Range of pharmaceuticals found in fish across U.S. (ctv.ca)
- US fish are druggies (americablog.com)