Scientists are just now beginning to explore in-depth the impact of prescription drugs and their residue being flushed into our fisheries by wastewater treatment plants.
And plenty of those chemicals are finding their way into lakes and rivers too, as treatment plants aren’t equipped to filter out such pollutants and nearly half of the population takes a prescription drug each month. In fact, more than 20 percent take three or more monthly, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
As I’ve reported at Activist Angler, most of the news is not good. Check out Scientists Find More Mutated Intersex Fish in Nation’s Waters.
“We’re finding in our study that it (synthetic female hormone found in many drugs) can wipe out fish populations over several generations, and it’s the male fish that are most affected,” says Kristen Keteles, a toxicologist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Denver.
But now here’s an interesting twist and possibly good news:
Researchers in Europe have determined that a drug commonly used to treat anxiety and insomnia in humans reduces mortality in Eurasian perch.
Or maybe that’s not such good news after all:
Increased survival of one species could lead to a proportional increase in mortality of another, possibly one that is the prey of the former. As anglers well know, bass and other predators experienced diminished health and growth when there’s not enough food to go around.
“A new, conceptual view of ecotoxicological testing should include the possibility that a substance can improve the health of an organism and make individuals affected by contamination more competitive than non-affected individuals,” said one of the authors of the study.
"Even though our study focused on one single pharmaceutical contaminant, it is possible that similar effects could be induced by exposure to a whole range of pharmaceuticals that find their way into surface waters, such as antibiotics, painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, hormones and antidepressants.”