Edit: Following pesfandiar's link about caffeine pollution in the Pacific Northwest, I found this about Puget Sound:
> Of all the flavors trickling downstream, artificial vanilla dominates the sound, Keil said. For instance, the team found an average of about six milligrams of artificial vanilla per liter of water sampled.
Yes, 6 mg/L in water! That's not trace contamination. But "Puget Sound is vanilla flavored!" isn't so scarey, I guess.
This isn't click bait silly. This is another wake up call. So wake up.
> SoundCitizen has delivered impacts in both science and education, annually engaging more than 2,000 volunteers, students, and event attendees in 2010 and 2011. In 2010, SoundCitizen tested for 37 different compounds, with the number growing to 110 compounds in 2011. Scientific findings included:
> a pattern in the cycle of ethinylestradiol (pharmacological estrogen) in the natural environment;
> the ubiquitous presence of plasticizers in Puget Sound; and
> abundant anthroquinones (dyes and bleaches) and cyclohexanones (nylons and other synthetic fabrics), which may represent previously unrecognized contaminants in the marine environment.
If only there was a long and ugly drug war we could have used to reflect on the success or failure of the US government and it's attempt to control drug use. /s
Every decade, there is a new boogieman drug, just like there is a boogieman -ism. Anarchism, Communism, Satanism, Terrorism. Reefers, LSD, Huffing, Cocaine, Crack, Meth, Nicotine, Jenkem, Pills, Heroin. I have no conclusions to draw, but it is an interesting phenomenon.
Here's how the current battle of the drug war is going.
Back in the 70s, I recall that marijuana became less available, and more expensive, for a year or so. So we switched to other drugs. More acid. Cocaine. Various sedatives. And of course, alcohol.
Wake up to what, exactly?
> In a new [~2009] review study, Castiglioni and colleague Ettore Zuccato found that illegal drugs have become "widespread" in surface water in some of Europe's populated areas.
> Likewise, in 2005, Zuccato found that a daily influx of cocaine travels down the Po River, Italy's longest river.
EDIT quickly found some sources (in Dutch)     . Some are double, but its been tested for a while. Also, at least  and  are based on European investigation so English source should be available too.
We don't want to become numb to the signs of systematic and widespread problems.
On the general topic of pollution and what it takes to organize effective responses, a friend recommended this article https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/10/magazine/the-lawyer-who-b...
Most excretion occurs via urine, so it wouldn't be entirely impossible. But daily urine volume is 1-2 liters. And urine starts to smell nasty after a few hours. Also, there are thousands of widely-used drugs, legal and illegal. Even focusing the most damaging ones, that's some serious chemistry.
So filtration seems the best approach. And I see this:
> A new filter membrane based on a covalent organic framework (COF) could help clean up drug-laden wastewater (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2018, DOI: 10.1002/anie.201802276).
> The medicines we take often end up in sewage. Wastewater treatment plants struggle to remove these compounds before releasing water back into the environment. Scientists worry that when these molecules end up in the environment, they might contribute to the spread of antibiotic resistance or disrupt development in aquatic animals.
> COFs are crystalline porous networks made from small organic elements covalently linked together. They are similar to metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), which are finding uses in hydrogen storage and catalysis. COFs have been used in similar applications, but Jürgen Caro of Leibniz University Hannover thought the materials could make good nanofilters.
I got curious about where in the sound is safe to eat things from. Pretty much the entire sound is polluted and a hazard.
In Japan, when you move into a new apartment, it's customary to give a gift to your neighbors. Being a new professor, he and his wallet welcomed any chance to save a little money. When he and his wife were walking along a beach in the Tokyo Bay area, they noticed a ton of shellfish.
Thinking this would be a great gift and a budget dinner, they got some buckets, went back, and started pulling up shellfish for dinner and for their neighbors as a present.
The Tokyo Bay was much more polluted in that era (not that I know whether it would be safe to do this now), so when everyone ate those shellfish, apparently everyone got terribly sick.
So yeah, I'd be super leery of edible things in those kinds of areas in general. :(
This maybe of interest as a reference:
With longer term exposure, sure I could see health effects, but not from a single meal. Even under stringent environmental regulation, I'd avoid seafood caught in any large city's bay, since decades old contamination can still cause problems today.
"One hundred and six wastewater treatment plants, discharging as much as 97,000 pounds of chemicals each year, are located around Puget Sound."
In WA specifically, "sewage" is processed for as many contaminants as possible. Then, they put it in trucks and drive into the Cascades and spray it in the forests. They call it bioremediation - but it seeps into the groundwater, which then goes to streams. Where do all the streams end up? Puget sound.
If you wander up past the locked gates of the timber roads near Snoqualmie or Snohomish, you'll find flame retardants, opioids, caffeine, fluorocarbons, and whatever other toxins that ultimately never gets absorbed by the forests.
By the way, this practice of using biosolids in agriculture or forests is very politically charged because there's a lot of money tied up with this industry and the people who wound up writing the bulk of the EPA regulation around this industry. Every time you hear of an E. coli outbreak in some vegetable, it's because of this.
This is something I wish more people knew about, or at least stop to consider where their waste ends up.
I looked to find any sources with high quality scientific evidence showing accumulation of toxic waste in timber roads in WA. I am an open minded scientist, if you post high quality work I'll read it and change my mind.
It was the top item of the first google search for "biosolids washington forest".
Here's pictures if you're interested.
Here's another article from 20 years ago about the practice: http://thewatchers.us/wef/PacNW.pdf
I refuse to eat locally caught seafood.
The government recommends not to eat what is caught here.
Thanks for the high quality post, though.
Separately, they also have permanently closed the tidelands near Seattle due to pollution. Crabbing is still open each summer, but bivalves are closed.
I was just out on Whidbey Island a couple of weeks ago where I found and ate raw oysters on the beach, then dug clams and brought them home for dinner. The pollution does concern me, but I do trust the government testing.
Its also worth noting that the oysters & other bivalves you eat in restaurants come from the same waters.
That doesn't really tell me anything. Are they testing by taste or by some fancy test that can detect down to 1 ppq?
Assume 1 ppq detection rates (like many spectroscopic methods claim to do).
Puget sound is 110 km^3 or 1.10E14 liters of water. That's 6.05E15 moles of water. At one ppq (1E15), you need 6.05 moles of heroin. This comes out to about 2.2 kilograms.
Now in terms of doses, that's a lot of doses. But that's not a lot if a drug runner could have just tossed a single brick in to reach that concentration (or emptied a single car boot in haste).
Does this mean mussels are not a good food source to begin with? Is it better to avoid them, regardless of origin?
If a person puts a gram of 100% pure heroin (another good question might be how purity affects the measurements) in to their body, how much will come out the other end?
Also, from a chemistry perspective, how does water bring a solvent affect opioid molecules existing? Would the water or various things in the water break down the molecules into other non detectable molecules?
Probably the molecule does break up with a certain half life, either due to sun, or other animals metabolising it, etc. Then that 2.2 kg brick needs to be replaced once every two half-lives.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2991390/ Gives really hand-wavy half-life of many drugs in the environment as about 500 days, so the brick needs to be replaced every 1000 days.
Also 1 ppq is the lower bound. I think 1 ppt is quite reasonable for many methods though, so that can multiply the limit by 1000x.
All the factors above can increase the threshold amount of opoids, but here are some factors that can decrease it substantially:
There are people who dump unused drugs in, so that needs no attenuation factor.
Also, mussels are filter feeders, and oxycodone might accumulate in them substantially more (like 1000x+) than the background.
Finally, where they collected the mussels is probably correlated with sewage drains due to ease of human access, so the effective "volume of distribution" can be way less than the 110 km^3.
All that is to say, the real statistics are in the overdose calls for opoids. The headline is still an interesting cocktail-party line, but probably should be taken as a statement just by itself.
However, it is not clear if the glucuronides would be picked up by the test. Morphine glucuronides -- particularly morphine-3-glucuronide -- can hydrolyse back to morphine. It seems that the morphine molecule is largely not destroyed metabolically; the glucuronide moiety is more like a molecular "tag" that tells the kidney to get rid of something.
Assume highest street prices.
It's kind of like saying "Water tests positive for arsenic!", then finding it's 5 ppb and the EPA limit for drinking water is 10 ppb.
"What we eat and what we excrete goes into the Puget Sound," Jennifer Lanksbury, a biologist at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, told CBS News affiliate KIRO.
...so enough crap going into the water from the local population to be picked up in the Mussel samples... Crazy!
The results are a possible window into what's to come if we don't curb our rate of pollution in the region, but not representative of what's currently in the mussels that get to your plate.
When you take food out of the ground and consume it, you’ve removed some fertility from the ground. Either you have animals put it back in as manure, or you use some kind of synthetic fertilizer.
When the food goes through your body, you’re also generating manure. But typically we ship it off to some central location where it becomes a massive collection of toxic waste.
The permaculture argument is that if we kept as much of that waste on site as possible, we’d be recycling nutrients rather than not only wasting them, but creating toxic hazards due to the size of the collections.
On a small scale, think of how fertile the ground over a septic field is — wildflowers and grass will grow like crazy.
The more, er, devoted will go as far as installing composting toilets.
The reason I think this is relevant is that when the waste stays local, you’re much more conscious about what’s in it. If you have a septic system, you really don’t want pills going into it — especially if you also have well water. When it’s being flushed to some unknown location it’s easy to not give it a second thought.
More seriously, unless you're looking for an indirect measure of consumption, does it matter? Human action either way, and it is there either way.
I don't know enough about pharmacology, but I would think that this is more indicative of the dumping of unused opioids than use of.
You don't need to know people who "take more than a few" for them to actually exist. At this point, the opiate problem in the US is pretty much an established fact and most certainly does not boil down to people just washing their spares down the drain.
I threw away at least 20 or 30 after my appendectomy.
If you're a government agency giving advice on discarding potentially scheduled pharmaceuticals, advising people to flush them is an easy way to make sure diversion is no longer a concern.
Clickbait kid science.
People seem to be reluctant to mix medications for fear of drug interactions. They want a strong dose of one substance.
But nothing has worked for me better than mixing acetaminophen with ibuprofen or with naproxen. All are cheap, available over the counter, and have fewer side effects than prescription pain killers.
I also find that, after the initial pain subsides, I can more quickly reduce the dosage of these drugs than I could with prescription painkillers.
By all means, use oxy if you need it. But please consider trying alternatives first so you can avoid addiction.
It's a well-documented (in scientific literature) phenomenon that the mix of a standard dose of both acetaminophen and ibuprofen provides the same or better pain relief as opioids. This is what medical schools currently teach. You can read Maxigesic sales forecasts if you'd like a glowing review.
> use [OxyContin] if you need it
As far as I know, no one "needs" it (for pain relief, unless already addicted). By suggesting so, you're creating a placebo effect.
> [@Kenji] it depends on the person
Responding to a dead sibling comment: There are some differences observed for anesthetic response. The "red head rule" is interesting and suggests that different people might have different responses to various drugs. However, I'm not aware of any differentiation known for acetaminophen or ibuprofen response.
If you had said some types of pain, I would agree, but your statement as-is is not accurate.
If just had a leg amputated or some other major surgery, I doubt you'd be ok with just Tylenol and ibuprofen.
The only info could find concluded it better for dental pain.
Also, a large portion of the opioids prescribed are for dental pain. At least historically.
Strong pain killers are still somewhat useful for kidney stones however; When I had one a few years ago I was unable to keep any larger dose in my stomach long enough to metabolize it before the pain made me vomit. I got prescribed dilauded which was able to act fast enough to give the ibuprofen time to kick in.
But definitely consider destroying your opioids if you no longer need them, I think there are some common household chemicals which will break them down to a non-potent form, so we don't end up with them in places like puget sound.
Although you might become 'addicted', it's easier than controlling opioid intake.
An amusing anecdote that I hope doesn't make light of your suffering... I once had some severe pain from a pinched nerve, and my doctor prescribed Oxy. I tried one pill at bedtime to help me get to sleep. It was when we were just beginning to hear about how dangerous that stuff is, and I was worried about it.
Then my wife said to me: "You're not having any alcohol with that stuff, are you?" Shit. I realized that a good stiff drink would probably have put me to sleep too. So I asked her to get me a bottle of whisky, and I flushed the Oxy. My pain went away about the same time I ran out of whisky.
I don't know, maybe it depends on the person, how your body reacts to different substances.