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Calm as fish: Antidepressants in Niagara River fish

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Staff Writer | September 17, 2017
A team of scientists of the University of Buffalo found the existence of high concentrations of both active ingredients and metabolites in the brains of fish caught in the Niagara River connecting Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
Niagara River fish
Fish   Antidepressants can encourage lethargy
As part of their study, these researchers discovered these ingredients and metabolites included byproducts of the parent drug of popular antidepressant pharmaceuticals, including Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa and Sarafem, which are coming out from wastewater treatment plants and accumulating in fish brains.

"It is a threat to biodiversity, and we should be very concerned. The drugs could affect fish behaviour," stressed Diana Aga, lead scientist and professor of chemistry at the University of Buffalo.

She went on to explain the drugs could affect fish behaviour, particularly their survival instincts.

In fish, however, antidepressants can encourage lethargy and stunt their interest in hunting, avoiding predators and finding a mate.

"The levels of antidepressants found do not post a danger to humans who eat the fish, especially in the U.S., where most people do not like the brain", Randolph Singh, the study's co-author, said.

The highest accumulation of chemicals was found in the brains of fish, followed by the liver, muscle and gonads.