Dr. Alex Ford of the University of Portsmouth, in Hampshire, England (where they spell "behavior" with an unnecessary "u" to be all fancy and stuff), has found that shrimp exposed to the fluoxetine, also known by the brand name Prozac, are changing their behavior in dangerous ways, according to scientists at the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom.Theresa Shipley over at Discovery News breaks it down for the rest of us:
"[Shrimp on Prozac] become five times more likely to swim toward light, potentially bringing them closer to fishermen's nets and birds beaks."Ford then gets all science-y on our asses:
“Crustaceans are crucial to the food chain. And if shrimps’ natural behavior is being changed because of antidepressant levels in the sea, this could seriously upset the natural balance of the ecosystem,” he wrote in a university press release.
“Much of what humans consume you can detect in the water in some concentration," Ford said. "We’re 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 country’s waterways.”Now, back to Shipley:
"Drugs can get into our waterways in a variety of ways, including toilets, landfills and sewage runoff, according to a recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA).
Traces of those drugs end up in human waste, which then gets flushed down the toilet. Wastewater treatment facilities haven't traditionally tested for pharmaceuticals and therefore haven't been able to remove all drug compounds before releasing wastewater into rivers and oceans."Then, another hand-off to Ford, who ratchets down the science-speak for a moment:
"That's how drugs end up being fed to shrimp," he says.But wait--Ford can't resist the temptation to further prove his mettle as an academician:
“Effluent is concentrated in river estuaries and coastal areas, which is where shrimps and other marine life live."So, Shipley steps in again to wrap it up for the rest of us:
"Fluoxetine affects serotonin, a brain chemical that affects our feelings of happiness. Almost half the U.S. population takes at least one prescription drug, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."The takeaway?The world doesn't need to see more shrinks. It needs to eat more shrimp.