Salmon Near Seattle Now Take OxyContin

Photo by Photos by Mavis

People are on drugs. That’s the cold, hard truth. Pharmaceutical presence in the Western world has never been more prominent. There is no ailment too complicated or too trivial for pharmaceuticals to pass on. Due to this, lot’s of people take prescription drugs. They take SSRI’s for depression, Xanax for anxiety, Tylenol for a headache; they do most everything other than change their diets or meditate or even just go for a brisk walk. Understandably, some people rely on medications however the vast majority of people taking medications are casualties of their Doctor’s special interest backing: pharma.

Just how many people are on pharmaceutical cocktails? So many that now even the salmon migrating near Seattle’s Puget Sound are on them as well. In fact, they’ve tested positive for over 80 different drugs, including Paxil, Flonase, OxyContin, Zoloft, various other Antidepressants and even cocaine. When researchers tested the waters near the sewage treatment plants in the estuaries of Puget Sound, they discovered toxic levels of medications. They even found high concentrations of personal care products. All the while, the glorious migrating juvenile chinook salmon, swim along innocently and instinctively (and high as kites).

According to the Seattle Times, the concentrations of these medications were very high.


Why are the levels so high? It could be because people here use more of the drugs detected, or it could be related to wastewater-treatment plants’ processes, said Jim Meador, an environmental toxicologist at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle and lead author on a paper published this week in the journal Environmental Pollution.

“The concentrations in effluent were higher than we expected,” Meador said. “We analyzed samples for 150 compounds and we had 61 percent of them detected in effluent. So we know these are going into the estuaries.”

That’s right, so many people taking so many drugs eventually have to use the bathroom (depending on the drug taken, that’s either a difficult or too simple task). And if the processing plant can’t take care of your business on their end, then your Flonase ends up being consumed by Salmon, who to the best of my knowledge, do not suffer from hayfever. In theory, researchers can’t exactly figure out where it’s coming from (other than to know it comes from people, of course), but irrigation is tricky. The meds could be located in deep or shallow waters, near this pipe or that pipe. The meds were found in the Salmon’s tissue as well, meaning it has been there a while.

So the logical conclusion, of course, is that either these salmon like to party, or we as people have a crippling relationship with pharmaceuticals. I will go with the latter.

Now you might be wondering what could be done to prevent this, other than the obvious which is get people to cease taking overloads of meds. The answer is essentially, nothing. That’s because there is no monitoring system for finding OxyContin or Flonase in fresh or ocean waters. That’s partly because we never assumed we’d need to monitor such a thing and partly because, well, because we never assumed we’d need to monitor such a thing. I mean who ever saw a world coming that had an OxyContin issue in wild salmon?

In case you are wondering, the salmon don’t do well on Zoloft or the other cocktails. They tend to die at twice the rate of other fish, have reproductive issues and stunted growth. But, people thing they are less depressed; so there is THAT.

Photo by Photos by Mavis