"Because we're finding them in mussels, that means these chemicals are present in the water, and that means they're likely affecting fish and other invertebrates in the water", Lanksbury said.
When humans ingest opioids like oxycodone, they ultimately end up excreting traces of the drugs into the toilet. The drug was found at "levels where we might want to look at biological impacts", warned Andy James of the Puget Sound Institute, who assisted in the study.
King County Wastewater Management told KIRO7 that although their system has the potential to detect and filter out most contaminants from the water, it can not catch everything.
The growing use of opioids is showing up in an unexpected place - the waters of the Puget Sound, specifically the marine life that lives there, scientists say.
In three of the 18 locations, the mussels then tested positive for trace amounts of oxycodone. (Other contenders: "impactful", "content", "utilize", "normalize", "incel.") Nevertheless, it appears to be the mot juste for passing on the news that people in the PNW take so much heroin, fentanyl, Vicodin, OxyContin, Oxycodone, and oxytocin (probably) that even the shellfish in the region are getting a contact high. In fact, scientists at the University of Utah recently discovered that, if given the opportunity, zebrafish will willingly dose themselves with opioids.
The mussels came from very urban areas and are reportedly not near any commercial shellfish beds where mussels are harvested for food.
"Those are definitely chemicals that are out there in the nearshore waters and they may be having an impact on the fish and shellfish that live there", Lanksbury said. But it does pose worrying questions about the health of local fish, who are more responsive to opioids.
The mussels tested positive in three of the 18 locations.