Truth to Power

Fish on Prozac?

Drug traces found in water pose problem for wildlife

Over the last two years, scientists working on the Potomac River have netted 111 smallmouth bass with bizarre sexual traits. The fish were males but had eggs growing inside their testes.

Researchers found many of these gender-bending bass downstream from sewage treatment plants in water tinged with a chemical called ethinylestradiol – the active ingredient in birth control pills.

More studies are necessary, biologists say, but evidence is mounting that trace levels of prescription drugs in rivers and streams may be harming fish, tadpoles, frogs, mussels and oysters. The pharmaceuticals are passing unaltered through people’s bodies and sewage plants into waterways.

In Georgia and Mississippi, scientists recently discovered that the antidepressant Prozac, in water downstream from sewage plants, can kill tadpoles, stunt the growth of others and befuddle the survivors so they swim in circles and can’t flee from predators.</i>

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