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The Opioid Crisis

The researchers tested the mussels positive for oxycodone

While monitoring pollution levels in Puget Sound waters, research has reported that trace amounts of oxycodone have recently been discovered in mussel tissue.

Opiate use is so rampant in Seattle that SHELLS are testing positive for oxycodone

  • While monitoring pollution levels in Puget Sound waters, researchers reported that trace amounts of oxycodone were discovered in mussel tissue.
  • Oxycodone is a powerful narcotic used to treat severe pain and is highly addictive and has many of the same euphoric properties as heroin.
  • The data was collected through the Puget Sound Mussel Monitoring Program, which transports uncontaminated mussels to “highly urbanized areas.”
  • Because humans throw biological waste into the environment, mussels use the discarded material as a source of nutrition
  • Although this is not enough of an effect on Puget Sound mussels, the real problem is the fish in the area, which are known to respond to opioids.

Drug use is so widespread in the Pacific Northwest that scientists have found trace amounts of narcotics in the systems of sea creatures in the area.

Monitoring pollution levels in Puget Sound waters, research reports that trace amounts of oxycodone were recently discovered in the tissues of “native mussels from the Seattle and Bremerton area harbors.”

Oxycodone is a powerful narcotic used to treat severe pain and is highly addictive and has many of the same euphoric properties as heroin and morphine.

Oxycodone (file photo) is a powerful narcotic used to treat severe pain and is highly addictive and has many of the same euphoric properties as heroin.

Oxycodone (file photo) is a powerful narcotic used to treat severe pain and is highly addictive and has many of the same euphoric properties as heroin.

The data was collected through the Puget Sound Mussel Monitoring Program, which transports uncontaminated mussels from nearby Whidbey Island to “highly urbanized” areas far from any commercial shellfish beds.

The program was conducted by scientists from the Puget Sound Institute, an affiliate of the University of Washington, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“Mussels, which serve as filter feeders, concentrate contaminants from the local marine environment into their tissues,” explains Puget Sound Institute Editor-in-Chief Jeff Rice, who published a recent analysis of the findings.

Since humans excrete biological waste into the surrounding environment, bivalves use the discarded material as a source of nutrition and sustenance.

Puget Sound Institute editor-in-chief Jeff Rice (pictured) said mussels are

Puget Sound Institute editor-in-chief Jeff Rice (pictured) said mussels are “filter feeders” and consume particles present in the environment.

Rice said that after two to three months at the transplant site, the data showed that the oxycodone present in the sea creatures “was thousands of times less than the therapeutic dose for humans.”

Although it’s not enough to affect mussels in Puget Sound, Rice said the real problem is the area’s fish, which are known to respond to opioids.

Researchers at the University of Utah recently demonstrated that zebrafish voluntarily dose themselves with opioids, and the researchers believe that other species of fish, such as salmon, may have a similar response.

According to the Puget Sound Institute, it’s not unusual to find drugs or narcotics such as cocaine in mussel systems, but Rice said this was the first time opioids had been discovered in freshwater creatures.

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“It tells me there are a lot of people taking oxycodone in the Puget Sound area,” Washington Fish and Wildlife biologist Jennifer Lanksbury told local broadcaster KIRO-7 News.

“These are certainly chemicals that are out there in coastal waters that can impact the fish and shellfish that live there,” Lanksbury said, adding, “What we eat and what we excrete goes into Puget Sound.”

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