A new study conducted in the sea off the coasts of England found high levels of drugs and other chemicals in the water. The Clean Harbors Partnership, along with Portsmouth University, Brunel University and local interest groups, collected 288 samples from 22 different sites last year.
An analysis found pharmaceuticals and recreational drugs along with pesticides from the samples taken from along the coasts of Hampshire and West Sussex.
“We have found a large variety of prescribed and illegal drugs plus a variety of pesticides in coastal waters and marine organisms, such as crabs and oysters,” Alex Ford, professor at the University of Portsmouth’s School of Biological Sciences, said. “This is important, because we know that aquatic ecosystems are under threat from pharmaceuticals and farming practices such as biocides and fertilizers.”
Fifty different compounds, including antidepressants , high blood pressure medicine and medications for type 2 diabetes, were found in the samples along with pesticides, such as simazine, propamocarb and imidacloprid, and a banned neonicotinoid in the UK called clothianidin.
“This project is enabling us to determine what chemical contaminants are in our marine life and coastal waters,” Ford said. “There is a staggering list of prescription drugs passed from humans to wastewater treatment plants and into receiving streams, estuaries, or oceans by direct consumption, metabolism, and excretion or by toilet flushing of old prescriptions.”
Previous research conducted by Ford concluded that “even small amounts of antidepressants can impact crustaceans and molluscs, changing how they grow and reproduce,” EcoWatch reported
“The release of human pharmaceuticals into aquatic ecosystems is an environmental problem we should consider seriously,” Ford said.
Ultimately, researchers said the hope from the analysis is to “discover how these chemicals are impacting the coasts and wildlife to help encourage changes,” EcoWatch reported.
“It looks like the debate is set to continue as we learn what’s in the water and how ineffective the authorities have been at managing such obvious threats to our precious environment,” Rob Bailey, co-founder of Clean Harbours Partnership, said.