Mussels are testing positive for opioids in Seattle's Puget Sound
Mussels in Seattle's Puget Sound are testing positive for opioids, highlighting the region's problem with oxycodone.

Tyler MacDonald | 4 hours ago

Scientists from theWashington State Department of Fish and Wildlife have discovered that mussels living inPuget Sound's waters are testing positive for opioids, suggesting that "a lot of people" in the the area are likely taking oxycodone.

Since mussels filter water to nourish themselves with its nutrients, they are prime indicator species. And although mussels don't metabolize opioids, some fish can be come addicted.

The team of scientists tested 18 locations and discovered that three showed traces of oxycodone. While the levels weren't high enough to get humans high upon consumptionthey were thousands of times lower than human dosesthey were high enough to be indicative of a problem. Not only that, the epidemic is filtering down to the other species that inhabit America's ecosystems.

"What we eat and what we excrete goes into the Puget Sound," said Jennifer Lanksbury, a biologist at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. "It's telling me there's a lot of people taking oxycodone in the Puget Sound area."

"People should be wary," she said. "Hopefully our data shows what's out there and can get the process started for cleaning up our waters."

Although the Department of Fish and Wildlife said that the test was a one-time affair, they plan to seek additional funding to continue testing Washington's waters.

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