Scientists find ‘alarming’ prescription drug levels in fish

(NewsNation) — There’s something fishy happening in Florida.

Researchers at Florida International University and Bonefish & Tarpon Trust found “truly alarming” levels of pharmaceutical drugs in the blood and other tissues of fish off the coast of Florida.

“Pharmaceuticals are an invisible threat,” lead researcher Jennifer Rehage said in a news release. “These results tell us that they are a formidable threat to our fisheries, and highlight the pressing need to address our longstanding wastewater infrastructure issues,” Rehage said.

The three-year study began in 2018 and sampled 93 fish in South Florida, finding an average of seven pharmaceuticals per bonefish and 17 pharmaceuticals in a single fish.

The list includes:

  • Blood pressure medications
  • Antidepressants
  • Prostate treatment medications
  • Antibiotics
  • Pain relievers

“We need a new relationship with the ocean,” Wendy Schmidt said during an appearance Tuesday night on NewsNation’s “Banfield.”

Wendy and her husband Eric founded Schmidt Ocean Institute to advance ocean exploration and marine science by making their philanthropic research vessel Falkor available to scientists around the world at no cost in exchange for making their discoveries and research publicly available.

Schmidt says that the ocean systems were not designed to prevent what’s happening, and that’s the problem.

“We can go back 100 years and see the ocean is under attack. For many industrial systems. including the pharmaceutical industry. It’s not a surprise. The question is, what do we do about it?” Schmidt said.

There is an urgent need for Florida to expand and modernize wastewater treatment facilities and sewage infrastructure statewide, according to the researchers.

“Governor DeSantis’ leadership and historic funding for water quality improvements, along with legislative support and funding, have set us on the right path. Now we must expedite those efforts, increase investment over the long term, and pursue innovative solutions,” Rehage added.

June 8th is World Oceans Day, a day to “bring this issue up in the broader context of the human relationship with our life support system in the ocean,” Schmidt said.


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