An international team of researchers found traces of antidepressants in the brain tissue of fish swimming in the Great Lakes. Evidence of these drugs’ presence was noted in ten different species of fish living in the respective region.
Although eating such fish is reportedly not harmful to humans, the scientists behind this discovery urge that actions must be taken. They warn that the presence of such medicine could bring harmful changes to the fish’ behavior. It could also threaten and alter the biodiversity of the lakes.
The Brain Tissue of Fish Presented Accumulations of the Active Ingredients in Antidepressants
The research team examined ten different fish species living in the Niagara River. This is a vital channel which connects Lake Ontario to Lake Erie. Scientists analyzed rudd, rock bass, largemouth and smallmouth bass, as well as steelhead, yellow perch, walleye, white bass, white perch, and bowfin.
Reportedly, they found traces of the active ingredients of antidepressants in all of them. The highest such concentration was detected in a rock bass. This had 400 nanograms of norsertraline per each gram of brain tissue. Norsertraline is produced by sertraline, Zoloft’s active ingredient, for example.
The level of chemicals in the brain tissue of the fish wasn’t ‘as high’ as the one generated artificially in related research concerning marine species. However, researchers consider that they are worryingly high.
Also, the brain tissue concentrations of antidepressants were higher than the ones in river water. Researchers point out that this suggests that the fish are actually picking up more and more chemicals and that this is happening over time.
For the moment, scientists haven’t got enough data to precisely determine how the presence of these chemicals might affect the fish or if it will change their behavior. Nor can they readily establish its broader effects on the ecosystem as a whole.
However, Randolph Singh, part of the team and the University of Buffalo considers that “The risk that the drugs pose to biodiversity is real, and scientists are just beginning to understand what the consequences might be.”
A research paper was published and is available in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
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