One fish, two fish, sad fish, blue fish….
Recent studies show that the proliferation of antidepressants are harming aquatic life. When antidepressants end up in our waste water, there is no way to remove them before they end up rivers, lakes and oceans.
Scientists have observed a number of different behavioral changes in aquatic animals exposed to antidepresants; shrimp become more active, snails have a hard time staying attached to surfaces, some fish spawn spontaneously, minnows get anxious and cuttlefish and prawns change color.
“Fish do not metabolize drugs like we do. Even if environmental doses aren’t thought to be much for a human, fish could still have significant accumulation, and as it appears, changes in their brain’s gene expression,” Rebecca Klaper, a professor of freshwater sciences at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.
Other friends from your medicine cabinet are also compromising aquatic health. One of the biggest culprits is hand sanitizer. These products contain a number of harmful ingredients including Triclosan which end up in waterways and effect the ability of fish to swim normally. Americans dump more than 1 million pounds of triclosan and triclocarban into waterways every year.
“Scientists have also grown critical of the chemical’s potential effects on the environment. Triclosan can now be found in rivers, streams, and the sewage sludge that’s often used to fertilize crops. It’s toxic to algae, phytoplankton, and other aquatic life. Its absorption by these organisms means it can spread through the food chain. Even consumers who avoid triclosan still risk exposure to the chemical,” says Wenonah Hauter, Common Dreams.
While there isn’t really a solution to prevent medicines from migrating from our bodies to our bodies of water, we can cut down on the hand sanitizer. Washing your hands with a good biodegradable soap also kills 99% of germs and the soap breaks down long before it can harm our little fishy friends. Throw out your sanitizer today; I thank you, Nemo thanks you and anxious minnows everywhere are a little less anxious.
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