Salmon Caught Near Seattle Contain Cocaine, Antidepressants, and Other Drugs

Some areas of Puget Sound carry record levels of drugs, including Prozac and cocaine.

It’s as if a giant medicine cabinet tipped over into Puget Sound. Prozac, bug spray, cocaine, Zantac, ibuprofen, and 77 other drugs and personal care products were found in the water as well as in the tissues of juvenile chinook salmon near sewage treatment plants in the estuaries of the Seattle area.

Gathered over two days in September 2014, the samples revealed contamination levels that are among the highest in the nation.

Why the levels are so high remains a mystery. Treatment plants in the area do remove drugs from wastewater, but some drugs are not easy to eradicate, including seizure drugs and ibuprofen. The study states that as much as 97,000 pounds of drugs and chemicals from plants could enter Puget Sound each year.

“You have treatment doing its best to remove these, chemically and biologically,” Betsy Cooper, permit administrator for the Wastewater Treatment Division in Washington’s King County, told the Seattle Times. “But it’s not just the treatment quality, it’s also the amount that we use day to day and our assumption that it just goes away. But not everything goes away.”

[H/T Seattle Times]