Water

Keep Fish Off Drugs: Don't Flush Your Pills

Around the country, chemists have discovered that fish in the water downstream from water treatment plants absorb chemicals found in antidepressant drugs into their bodies.

Okay, so the image is kinda funny—a bunch of drugged-out party fish swerving all over the place, burping up air bubbles. But really, it's not cool. Because we're the fishes' drug dealers.

It's true. Around the country, chemists have discovered that fish in the water downstream from water treatment plants absorb chemicals found in antidepressant drugs into their bodies.

Discover puts it like this:

In the U.S., more than 200 million prescriptions for antidepressants are given out every year. A lot of the contents of those pills eventually end up in our water supply, either from patients' excretions or from pills flushed down the toilet. Since water treatment plants aren't designed to remove pharmaceuticals, we're effectively medicating our streams and rivers.

Which means, we're f***ing fish up. Seriously:

The concentrations of antidepressants in the water—billionths of a gram per liter—aren't enough to affect larger species, but they are enough to make small fish and fish babies feel woozy . . . The drugged minnows appeared lethargic and took twice as long to react to stimulus, making them much more vulnerable to predators.

 

Sorry to harsh your mellow folks, but it looks like we're probably killing the fish too. When scientists upped the dosage found in the waters, they discovered that many fish went completely berserk, and some even lost gender definition. And it can all be avoided by just not flushing your pills down the toilet or drain. The fact that 200 million people have antidepressant medication is alarming enough—let's not drag unwilling fish into our drugged up frenzy. So make sure to dispose of your unwanted medication safely. Because it's not a party if it happens every day.

Brian Merchant is a freelance writer, blogger, and editor living in Brooklyn, NY.
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