Pharmaceutical waste runoff causing shrimp, other marine life to commit suicide

Thursday, February 09, 2012 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: pharmaceutical runoff, shrimp, suicide

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(NaturalNews) First humans, then dogs, now shrimp? Though crustaceans are not actually taking antidepressant drugs because of a prescription, research out of the University of Portsmouth in the U.K. has found that pharmaceutical waste runoff, and particularly that of antidepressant drugs like Prozac, is causing shrimp and other exposed crustaceans to change their behavior in ways that are causing many more of them than usual to die off.

According to the study, shrimp exposed to antidepressants from waste runoff are five times more likely to swim towards light, which means they are far more likely to encounter fishermen's nets and birds that are hungry for a meal. While they would normally stay in more protected areas, these drug-induced sea creatures are basically committing suicide by gravitating towards situations that end up resulting in their early demise.

"Crustaceans are crucial to the food chain. And if shrimps' natural behavior is being changed because of antidepressant levels in the sea, this could seriously upset the natural balance of the ecosystem," said Alex Ford, lead researcher of the study, in a press release. "Much of what humans consume you can detect in the water in some concentration. It's no surprise that what we get from the pharmacy will also be contaminating the country's waterways."

Back in 2008, it was discovered that the water supplies of 24 major metropolitan cities in the U.S. were contaminated with drug residues, even after having been filtered using typical treatment methods. Included in the mix were anti-seizure and anti-inflammatory medications, painkillers, caffeine, and antidepressants (

Even earlier than that, a 2004 study conducted in the U.K. found that both sewage and drinking water supplies were riddled with pharmaceutical waste runoff. The filtering technology used at most water treatment plants is not capable of capturing drug residues, which end up flushing untold levels of drug residue mixtures into rivers, streams, and ultimately the world's oceans (

Most wastewater treatment plants do not even test for pharmaceuticals, in fact, because it is typically not a requirement under local and state laws. And while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at least now admits that drugs are persistent in water supplies, the agency insists there is no evidence they cause human harm (

Numerous scientific studies, including the shrimp study, however, indicate otherwise.

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