antidepressants are made to improve people's mental health, the
opposite reaction seems to be occurring in shrimp, which become five
times more likely to
commit suicide when exposed to the drug fluoxetine.
who show normal signs of behavior typically swim away from the light
due to the fact that birds and fisherman are usually waiting to catch
them in well-lit open areas. But when shrimp come in contact with
fluoxetine in the water, they begin to swim toward the light putting
themselves in harms way.
is released into the water by human excrement in waste water that is
carried out to sea. What biologists are worried about is if enough
shrimp come in contact with the antidepressant, it could cause a
decline in the population, which could ultimately detriment the
are crucial to the food chain and if shrimp's natural behaviour is
being changed because of antidepressant levels in the sea, this could
seriously upset the natural balance of the ecosystem," said Alex
Ford, a marine biologist at the UK's University
of Portsmouth. "Much of what humans consume you can detect
in the water in some concentrations.
a nation of coffee drinkers and there is a huge amount of caffeine
found in waste water, for example. It's no surprise that what we
get from the pharmacy will also be contaminating the
began experimenting with this antidepressant problem when he found
that a certain parasite could cause behavioral changes in shrimp by
altering their serotonin levels. He started exposing shrimp to a
small amount of fluoxetine to see if human antidepressants would
affect them the same way and also wanted to know how much of this
drug it would take to make them change their behavior. He found that
this small amount was enough to make the shrimp harm themselves.
[outflowing waste water] is concentrated in river estuaries and
coastal areas, which is where shrimps and other marine life live,"
said Ford. "This means that the shrimps are taking on the
excreted drugs of whole towns."
shellfish, like shrimp, seem to be returning the favor by exposing
humans to unsafe levels of toxins as well, according to
the U.S. Environmental Protection
EPA held public hearings yesterday to review "a proposed safe
exposure limit for dioxin," which is a common pollutant and
waste product from smelting, chlorine bleaching, pesticides
manufacturing and incineration. Adults obtain dioxin by eating
shellfish, meat and dairy, and then pass it on to fetuses in the
womb. According to the Environmental Working Group, adults are
exposed to 1,200 times more dioxin than what they consider is safe.
Furthermore, through nursing, infants consume 77 times more dioxin
than what is considered safe for babies. High levels of ongoing
exposure can lead to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, early
menopause, reduced testosterone and endometriosis.
the increase in antidepressant prescriptions in recent years and the
new studies surrounding dioxin levels and their effects on humans,
of toxins between people and shrimp have become hazardous to
each one's health, and in some cases, fatal.