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It found that antidepressants were a major problem: These drugs and their metabolites (byproducts) were found in the brains of all ten of the fish species studied.In particular, the highest concentration of a single compound was found in a rock bass, which had 400 nanograms of norsertraline per gram of brain tissue.
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High concentrations of these drugs were detected in the brain tissue of 10 fish species in the Niagara River.
Researchers say that ingredients from antidepressants are coming out from wastewater treatment plants, accumulating in fish brains and potentially affecting their their feeding behavior and survival instincts.
Norsertraline is a metabolite of sertraline - the active ingredient in Zoloft, a drug that is used to treat depression, OCD, PTSD and other mental health disorders.
The study, which revealed that human antidepressants are building up in the brains of fish common to the Great Lakes region, was conducted at the Niagara River, which connects two of the Great Lakes, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, via Niagara Falls This was in addition to many other compounds found in the same fish, including citalopram, the active ingredient in Celexa (an anti-depression drug), and norfluoxetine, a metabolite of the active ingredient in Prozac and Sarafem, which treat depression, OCD, bulimia, and panic disorder.
Wastewater treatment facilities have not kept pace with the growth of antidepressant use.
In general, wastewater treatment focuses narrowly on killing disease-causing bacteria and on extracting solid matter such as human excrement.
'The levels of antidepressants found do not pose a danger to humans who eat the fish, especially in the US, where most people do not eat organs like the brain,' Dr Singh says.
'However, the risk that the drugs pose to biodiversity is real, and scientists are just beginning to understand what the consequences might be.'The study looked for a range of pharmaceutical and personal care product chemicals in the organs and muscles of 10 fish species: smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, rudd, rock bass, white bass, white perch, walleye, bowfin, steelhead and yellow perch.
But still, the researchers say that the findings of the study are worrisome because the antidepressants that Dr Aga's team detected in fish brains had accumulated over time, often reaching concentrations that were many times higher than the levels in the river.
For example, in the brains of smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, rock bass, white bass and walleye, sertraline was detected at levels that were about 20 or more times higher than levels in the river.
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