Fish off Florida coast test positive for ANTIDEPRESSANTS, prostate drugs, antibiotics and painkillers as human sewage heads to sea
- Researchers from Florida International University and the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust found that each of the 93 fish had an average of seven drugs in their system.
- They tested positive for antidepressants, blood pressure medication, prostate medication, antibiotics and painkillers
- Drugs can be transmitted to fish through human sewage
- They can affect all aspects of fish life, including their feeding habits, sociability and migratory behavior.
- Nearly 5 million prescriptions are filed in the United States each year
Fish off the coast of Florida are testing positive for a slew of pharmaceuticals as human sewage heads out to sea.
Researchers from Florida International University and the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust – a Miami-based nonprofit organization focused on bonefish and tarpon conservation – studied the two types of fish found in Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys since 2018.
They collected blood and tissue samples from 93 bonefish and tarpon from the area and found that each had an average of seven medications in his system – including antidepressants, blood pressure medications, prostate medications, antibiotics and painkillers.
One fish even had a total of 17 different drugs in its tissues, the study found, and researchers have found pharmaceuticals in bonefish prey – including crabs and shrimp.
These drugs can affect all aspects of a fish’s life, including their feeding habits, sociability and migratory behavior – threatening the already dwindling bonefish population in the area.
“These findings are truly alarming,” Jennifer Rehaga, a coastal and fish ecologist and associate professor at the university, said in a statement.
“Pharmaceuticals are an invisible threat, unlike algae blooms or murky waters,” she explained.
“Yet these results tell us that they pose a formidable threat to our fisheries and underscore the urgent need to address our long-standing wastewater treatment infrastructure issues.”
Florida International University researchers took blood and tissue samples from 93 bonefish and tarpon in Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys and found that each fish had an average of seven drugs in its system.
The fish tested positive for antidepressants, blood pressure medications, prostate medications, antibiotics and painkillers. A bonefish is pictured here
Nearly 5 billion prescriptions are filled in the United States each year
The study comes just three years after a similar study in Australia found that fluoxetine – the main ingredient in the antidepressant Prozac – disrupts the foraging behavior of a species of freshwater mosquito, Gambusia holbrooki – found in waterways in the United States and Australia. .
The researchers found that exposing both individual fish and their social groups – called “shoals” – to different levels of fluoxetine had no apparent effect on the solitary fish.
But as a group, the study published in the journal Biology Letters in 2019, mosquitoes relaxed their hunting behavior and ate less food overall when exposed to high levels of the drug – which remains active even at low doses and can be continuously released.
Florida International University researchers (pictured) have also found pharmaceuticals in bonefish prey, including crabs and shrimp.
A similar study found that fluoxetine – the main ingredient in the antidepressant Prozac – disrupts the foraging behavior of a species of freshwater mosquito, Gambusia holbrooki – which is found in waterways in United States and Australia. A mosquitofish is pictured here
Meanwhile, the Florida International University study reports that nearly 5 billion prescriptions are filed each year in the United States – with IQVIA reporting that in 2020, a total of 6.3 billion prescriptions were dispensed.
Yet there are still no environmental regulations for the disposal of pharmaceuticals – which can be released through urine and end up in freshwater bodies like lakes and rivers, as treatment systems water cannot completely filter out traces of the drug.