Drug contaminants were found in the blood and other tissues of redfish in Florida waters during a year-long study by the FIU and Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT).
Cardiovascular drugs, opioid pain relievers, and psychoactive drugs were most commonly discovered. The antiarrhythmic drug flecainide and the opioid pain reliever tramadol were detected in more than 50% of the red fish. The antipsychotic drug flupentixol was detected above safe levels in one in five red fish samples.
This research follows A similar study on bone thickness In the Florida Keys which also revealed high levels of pharmaceutical contamination shows that these waterborne contaminants are a statewide concern. Similar to the results from the bony fish study, pharmaceuticals were found in all sampled estuaries, with an average of two drugs per fish and a maximum of five. Only seven of the 113 fish sampled had no drugs in their system. On average, 25.7% of the fish exceeded the level of drugs deemed safe, which is about a third of the therapeutic levels in humans.
“These studies of bonefish and redfish are the first to document the troubling presence of MIDs in species important to Florida’s recreational fisheries,” said Jennifer Rehage, FIU Professor and lead researcher on the study. “With many of these drugs affecting other fish species and the types of pharmaceuticals out there, we are concerned about the role drugs play in the health of our fisheries. We will continue this work to get more answers to these troubling questions.”
Scientists, volunteer guides and anglers sampled redfish in nine of Florida’s most important estuaries: Pensacola, Apalachicola, Cedar Key, Tampa Bay, Charlotte Harbor, Florida Bay, North Indian River Lagoon, St. Augustine and Jacksonville.
“The results underscore the urgent need to modernize Florida’s wastewater treatment systems,” said BTT President and CEO Jim McDuffie. “Human pollutants like this pose a significant threat to Florida’s recreational fisheries, which have an annual economic impact of $13.9 billion and directly support more than 120,000 jobs.”
Nearly five billion prescriptions are filled each year in the United States, yet there are no environmental regulations for drug production or worldwide disposal. Pharmaceutical contaminants originate most often from human wastewater and are not adequately removed by conventional water treatment. They remain active in low doses and can be continuously released, and exposure can affect all aspects of fish behaviour, with negative consequences for their reproduction and survival. Pharmaceutical contaminants have been shown to affect all aspects of fish life, including feeding, activity, socialization, and migratory behavior.
“Florida is a leader in addressing water quality and wastewater infrastructure issues, including converting sewer systems to wastewater treatment,” said Kelly Ralston, BTT vice president for conservation and public policy. “The results of this study indicate that there are additional opportunities for improvement by retrofitting existing wastewater treatment plants with innovative technologies, such as ozone treatment, to remove pharmaceuticals and demand such technology in new wastewater facilities.”
Study of pharmaceutical contaminants of red fish: www.bonefishtarpontrust.org/do…-Redfish-handout.pdf
the quote: Florida Redfish Pharmaceuticals (2023, April 4)accessed April 4, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-04-pharmaceuticals-florida-redfish.html
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