Monday Moaning

We’ve screwed up big time!

Drugs, chemicals, additives to food, cosmetics and medicines are all fine when they go ‘in’, but what happens when they go ‘out’?

Anxiety drug found in rivers changes fish behaviour

Normally shy perch became bolder and more independent when exposed to a drug called oxazepam for treating anxiety

The effect of the drug on European perch (above) was similar to its effect on people, with potential evolutionary and ecological impacts. Photograph: Alamy

Drugs to treat anxiety in people may alter the behaviour of fish when the chemicals are flushed into rivers, according to scientists. Swedish researchers found that European perch exposed to tiny concentrations of a drug became less sociable, ate more and became more adventurous – all changes in behaviour that could have unexpected ecological impacts on fish populations.

When scientists at Umeå University in Sweden screened rivers for pharmaceuticals they found that a drug for treating anxiety, called oxazepam, was accumulating in fish. Many drugs and other synthetic chemicals used by humans in everything from pesticides to cosmetics can pass through waste water treatment and end up in wildlife, potentially accumulating to toxic levels.

But until now scientists had never studied the behavioural impacts of small quantities of contaminants. Tomas Brodin led a team that mimicked in the lab the concentrations of oxazepam found in the wild – around a microgram per kilogram of fish body weight – and watched for changes in how bold, sociable and active the fish were.

“Normally, perch are shy and hunt in schools,” said Brodin. “This is a known strategy for survival and growth. But those who swim in oxazepam became considerably bolder.”

The results are published this week in Science and were announced at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston.

Jonatan Klaminder, an ecologist at Umeå University and an author of the paper, said the effect of the drug on fish was similar to its effect on people. “What the drug does is remove some of the fear that the very small fish experience,” he said. “[They] become less interested in staying close with others – staying close to others is a well-known defence system to avoid predators. They become less afraid of exploring new areas, so they just go out to search for food and become more effective in finding and consuming food.”

This change in behaviour could have evolutionary consequences. Adventurous or antisocial fish are more likely to be eaten by larger fishes but are also the ones that will explore new areas and, over time, alter the genetic diversity of future populations.

The solution, according to the researchers, is not to stop medicating people who need drugs such as oxazepam but to improve sewage treatment plants to capture the drugs and reduce their contamination of water systems in the wild.

The research also has implications for the way ecologists monitor pollutants in the environment, said Klaminder. “We’re still deeply rooted in what a pollutant is and it goes back to the 1970s and 1980s where we had heavy rain, acid rain, organic pollutants that definitely cause harm and physiological effects. When it comes to drugs, there is a new area of contamination research that doesn’t really fit with this old conceptual view.” Focusing on the potential negative physiological impacts of an environmental contaminant could miss the subtle behavioural changes that may also occur.

He added: “Hopefully it will make researchers rethink what they are looking for.”

Check the links here

Check the links here

Opinion:

How much of this drug is being passed on to humans? Will we too become emboldened, will our behaviours change? Have our behaviours already changed?

What goes in, must comes out… and not all of it is treated; as a result we are polluting the waterways of the world worse than we thought.

Every time you pee or crap, the chemicals that you have used/consumed are passing directly into the planetary water system.

So you may think you are buying or eating organic, but the reality is that your precious organic products are tainted and poisoned by the very water that you think makes them organic.

What other chemicals are we passing on to people through the food chain?

Just think, every time you clean your face after you’ve used makeup, the gunk goes down the drain… and into the sewerage system… Is it treated, or does it just pass right on into the rivers and estuaries? We already know that many cosmetic products have harmful chemicals.

We’ve screwed up big time!

 

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9 responses to this post.

  1. I absolutely agree with what you say and I find it very worrying myself, but, regarding the water element, it’s not always the case. I owned and worked a 45 acre organic small holding for a number of years and our spring water was absolutely pure – we had it tested annually as it was the water that we had to drink ourselves and we had 5 young children. The shit that we all made – human and animal went back onto the land as fertiliser – sounds gross but it works! Of course we weren’t on mains drains so we had a septic tank that had to be emptied …All our washing powder, household products etc were eco-friendly. As for make-up etc..I hadn’t the time or inclination to bother with it. Who has when they have a day of livestock and a farm to attend too? It was probably the least polluted environment that I have ever lived in.

    I miss those days!

    Nice post and thanks for sharing. Lottie

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    • >Lottie, it may not be the case always at the moment, as you say, but how long before surface water leaches into the aquifers and contaminate the planet? Personally, I hate makeup,etc, I use sparingly because I am in close contact with students who expect it. I love farm living too, the closeness to nature is wonderful.

      AV

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  2. Feedback loops equals karma.

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  3. As I was reading I came to the same questions you did as well. We have no idea what all these chemicals are doing. I stopped coloring my hair a few years back after considering what the chemicals were doing not only to my health but to the waterways as I rinsed the dye down the drain. I’ve also seen studies that show the effects of our prescription birth control is having on the frog population. That would turn around to questions of whether or not we are then consuming the same medications in our drinking water. Will that be how we start controlling population growth in humans?

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    • >lsf, why not? In answer to your last point first. These contraceptives may well be in the water supply, maybe they already have some bearing on infertility rates as they obviously (I didn’t know previously, I’ll take your word for it) have amongst frog populations. Only serves to strengthen my concern and questions. The vanity of man, make up, hair colouring, etc has to be the bane of mankind.

      It has long been said that we are destroying the planet, but we don’t know how badly and how fast. I believe it is worse than anyone has yet dared paint it, and faster than anyone has yet dared to suggest.

      Man needs to change, and change drastically and fast. Our whole paradigm is wrong!

      AV

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      • Man does need to change fast. Unfortunately I believe change will start at the bottom with the individual long before it gets to the level of government and the nations as a whole.

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      • Governments will never change, until we change the governments. The same (type) individuals have been around to long and have got to he stage where they can run roughshod without fear over the people because the people have let them.

        AV

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  4. […] for information and humor.  The morning after I watched the above mentioned documentary I found this post on the effects of our anti-anxiety medication ending up in our […]

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