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We Consume and Dispose of So Many Drugs, Now Even Aquatic Life Is Getting High

Humans are taking a lot of drugs. That means every other living thing is taking them too.

Humanity’s consumption of drugs is making its way down the food chain. Prescription drugs ranging from antidepressants, blood thinners, erectile dysfunction drugs and birth control pills to illegal drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine are working their way through human bodies and plumbing systems and into lakes, rivers, and oceans, where they are affecting fish and other wildlife. Eventually, they make their way up the food chain and return to us via the plants and animals we eat. Their impact on human health remains unclear, but some scientists are finding troubling impacts on aquatic life.

“We have every reason to suspect that the release of stimulants to aquatic environments is on the rise across the globe, yet little is known about the ecological consequences of this pollution,” said Emma Rosi-Marshall, a freshwater ecologist at the Cary Institute.

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