Seattle’s Bay Mussels Contain Traces Of Opioids

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It seems that even mussels are affected by the opioid crisis. Scientists have been tracking pollution for some time and found in the Seattle Bay traces of oxycodone in the mussels. After getting clean mussels from Penn Cove on Whidbey Island, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife tested them for water contamination.

The Puget Sound Institute analyzed data and discovered that in three locations out of eighteen, there were positive results for traces of oxycodone. Two of the areas were close to the historic naval shipyard district, and the other one was in Elliot Bay near Harbour Island, Seattle.

Scientist Andy James at the Puget Sound Institute assisted with the study. He explained that the areas where they took mussels contaminated with oxycodone are highly urbanized. The mussels were not near any commercial shellfish beds. He recommends that these mussels shouldn’t be consumed:

“You wouldn’t want to collect [and eat] mussels from these urban bays.”

A Very Small Amount of Oxycodone

Mussels containing oxycodone was thousands of times lower than the therapeutic dose in treating humans.

Puget Sound waters contain many chemical compounds, like pharmaceuticals or even drugs like cocaine. However, this is the first time scientists at the Puget Sound Institute discovered opioids in shellfish.

State Fish and Wildlife biologist Jennifer Lanksbury lead the studies, explaining that their findings point to a different issue:

“It’s telling me there’s a lot of people taking oxycodone in the Puget Sound area. Hopefully, our data shows what’s out there and can get the process started for cleaning up our waters.”

The contamination comes from wastewater treatment plants, according to Lanksbury, saying that the chemicals could impact fish and shellfish in that area. However, the public has nothing to worry because mussels in restaurant or stores come from clean locations, and are healthy to eat.

Rex Austin

Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere