Researchers from the Czech University of Life Sciences recently went to work to answer the age old question of whether or not fish can be impacted by drugs that accumulate into bodies of water.
Science can be fun if it involves fish, and can be even more fun if it involves drugs. So for the sake of science, researchers got 40 brown trout addicted to methamphetamines by soaking the substance into fish tank.
The results indicate that it is indeed possible for fish to be impacted by drugs found in polluted waterways.
According to CNN, the level of methamphetamine for project was consistent with levels that have been observed in various streams where wild fish swim. Every other day the fish were given the choice of staying in water with meth in it and swimming into water without meth, and pretty much every fish in the study chose to keep doing meth. Even after going four days in freshwater, the fish still chose the chemically altered water every time and traces of the methamphetamines were found in the fishes brains up to 10 days after exposure.
The researchers contend that the results of this study indicate that even low levels of illicit drugs absorbed in lakes, rivers, ponds, and streams can impact fish behavior.
Drugs excreted from users through urine passes through sewage treatment systems that are not chemically engineered to treat that kind of contamination, so substances like methamphetamine can began to accumulate in the waterways of areas with high use.
Pavel Horky is a behavioral ecologist who lead the study which was published in the journal of experimental biology. He explained the results and impact of the project:
“Fish are sensitive to adverse effects of many neurologically active drugs from alcohol to cocaine and can develop drug addiction related to the dopamine reward pathway in a similar manner as humans.
Such effects could change the functioning of whole ecosystems as adverse consequences are of relevance at the individual as well as population levels.
Current research from teams around the world undoubtedly shows their adverse impact on ecosystems, which in turn can influence humans.”