A huge new finding indicates that scientists are finding traces of antidepressants in fish that live in the Great Lakes, and that could affect the ecosystem.
An alarming new discovery by scientists at the University of Buffalo suggests that we may be poisoning the fish in the Great Lakes with our growing reliance on antidepressant medication. A new study suggests that antidepressant drugs are being excreted in small amounts in the toilets of people who take them, and trace amounts of them are making their way to wastewater treatment plants and eventually into lakes and rivers.
THe study found multiple instances of fish species in the Great Lakes have antidepressants in their brains, finding high concentrations of the active ingredients and metabolites from popular antidepressants like Zoloft, Celexa, Prozac, and Sarafem in fish caught in the Niagara River between Lake Erie (pictured) and Lake Ontario.
Fish species affected include various types of bass, perch, walleye, and trout. These concentrations aren’t harmful to people who eat the fish, but they can create problems when it comes to biodiversity, and can have unintended consequences. For example, research has shown that antidepressants can result in “suicidal shrimp” that swim toward light that can make them a target for fish and birds.
“Human antidepressants are building up in the brains of bass, walleye and several other fish common to the Great Lakes region, scientists say,” reads the university statement. In a new study, researchers detected high concentrations of these drugs and their metabolized remnants in the brain tissue of 10 fish species found in the Niagara River. This vital conduit connects two of the Great Lakes, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, via Niagara Falls. The discovery of antidepressants in aquatic life in the river raises serious environmental concerns, says lead scientist Diana Aga, PhD, the Henry M. Woodburn Professor of chemistry in the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences.”