Antidepressants found in fish brains in Niagara River: study
The brains of fish found in the Niagara River, such as yellow perch, have been found to have ingredients from antidepressants. (Derek Ruttan/Postmedia Network/Files)
Well, that's depressing news.
Antidepressant medications are increasingly being found in brains of fish in the Niagara River, according to a new study, raising environmental concerns.
"These active ingredients from antidepressants, which are coming out from wastewater treatment plants, are accumulating in fish brains,” Diana Aga, lead scientist and professor of chemistry at the University of Buffalo, said in a release. "It is a threat to biodiversity, and we should be very concerned.
"These drugs could affect fish behaviour. We didn't look at behaviour in our study, but other research teams have shown that antidepressants can affect the feeding behaviour of fish or their survival instincts. Some fish won't acknowledge the presence of predators as much."
High concentrations of antidepressants and its metabolized residue were found in all 10 fish species studied by scientists: smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, rudd, rock bass, white bass, white perch, walleye, bowfin, steelhead and yellow perch.
Researchers place the blame mainly on wastewater treatment plants that only kill disease-causing bacteria and remove solid waste.
"These plants are focused on removing nitrogen, phosphorus, and dissolved organic carbon but there are so many other chemicals that are not prioritized that impact our environment," Aga said. "As a result, wildlife is exposed to all of these chemicals. Fish are receiving this cocktail of drugs 24 hours a day, and we are now finding these drugs in their brains."