In a recent research, it was stated that the bay mussels of Washington’s Puget Sound have tested positive for the traces of oxycodone. According to the researchers who analyzed the mussels, the discovery of oxycodone traces is not uncommon and it is the first time that a bay mussel is traced with this drug.
While giving an interview to K5 News, biologist Jennifer Lanksbury said that they have found heart medications, oxycodone, and chemotherapy drugs in the mussels. It was further told by the scientists that the medications made their way to the Puget Sound due to the wastewater treatment plants. This analysis was a part of Puget Sound Mussel Monitoring Program of the state. In this program, various mussels are analyzed to check the pollution level at different points.
The reason why these mussels are used as a test object to determine toxins is that these mussels are filter-feeders and eat microscopic plants. During this process, they eat all sorts of contaminants like toxins, metals, pesticides, and salts and at any time the researchers can get detailed data about the quality of the water. All this information is recorded in the body tissues of the mussels, as explained by the institute.
The institution further reported that the amount of oxycodone found in the body tissued of mussels was thousand times less than a therapeutic dose for humans. The mussels were tested at 18 different sites and the drug was diagnosed in only 8 sites, as suggested by the researchers.
Andy James, a research assistant said that it is highly unlikely that the mussels can digest the drugs but the scientists are worried about the effects of this drug on the fish. According to the research of labs, the zebrafish is more prone to digesting themselves with oxycodone. Due to the increased opioid crisis, scientists devised a plan to analyze the behavior of zebrafish with the opioid.
The experiment took place at the University of Utah Health. After the experiment, it was revealed that the zebrafish increases its drug-seeking behavior which puts the fish in risky condition. The researchers now fear that other fishes like salmon also show the same response. Other than oxycodone, the chemotherapy drug Melphalan was also found in the mussels, as reported by James.
While talking about mussels, a chemist of University of Washington Jim Gawel said that they are the best testing devices available right now. Fossil fuels hydrocarbons are the most common type of contaminants that are found in the body tissues of Page Sound’s mussels. Mussel Watch Program in 2013, found fossil fuel hydrocarbons in each mussel tested from 108 different sites.
Mussels found from urban areas are more prone to PAHs. According to the reports, the mussels found from Eagle Harbor ferry terminal on Bainbridge Island and Elliott Bay waterfront have the highest percentage of PAH’s. Presence of such a high percentage of PAH’s suggests that at 90% of the sites, these elements come from combustion. And this research has led the scientists to the conclusion that vehicle exhausts are the major cause of producing toxins like oxycodone in mussels.
In past, the source of testing for the scientists was wild animals only and they had to rely on them for their research. But now with the help of citizen volunteers, mussels are key factors in making the research more authentic and practical. In previous researches, many drugs like cocaine were found in mussels but this is the first time that the marine species was discovered with the pain reliever oxycodone.
The discovery of mussels with oxycodone suggests that a lot of people around Puget Sound area are using the pain reliever, said Jennifer Lanksbury, State Fish, and Wildlife biologist. She further told that the chemical may have an impact on other species like fishes and shellfish in that area. Jennifer further added that the data they gathered had given them the direction in which they need to work more. The mussels which people eat at restaurants are clean and healthy to eat as they come from a cleaned area, Jennifer continued.