Fish Exposed to Anti-Anxiety Medication: Abnormal Behaviour

by anthony guerriero on February 16, 2013 - 1:11pm

Pam Belluck’s article from The New York Times posted on Feb 14th2013 reports that researchers in Sweden found that traces of anxiety drugs in waterways affected fish behavior. When European perch were exposed to different concentrations of Oxazepam, they “became less social, more active and ate faster” than usual.


Oxazepam is an anti-anxiety medication that can be found in various waterways by human excretion, flushing or discarding the medication. This study was intriguing to researchers because it showed what drugs that are intended for humans could do to animals.  However, the United States Environmental Protection Agency said that “their study to the real would is unclear” due to the fact that the lowest concentration studied in artificial conditions created by the Swedish researchers were nowhere as concentrated as natural waterways.


The United States Geological Survey has conducted studies in the past showing that male fish in the Potomac River were turning into female fish. Hormone residues may be responsible for the inter-sex fish incident.


This raises a very important question to the public. Can an increase in pharmaceuticals in waterways influence our populations well being? Everybody knows that ingesting medication that isn't intended for you can harm your body.  If we ingest fish (or any other foods) that are exposed to hormones, anti-anxiety drugs or anti-depression drugs, what are the consequences of these things on our body? I think that we should limit the amount of prescribed medicine for depression and anxiety to reduce the population’s chances of ingesting them through food sources. Though these are diseases, maybe the government can invest money on finding other cures related to therapy as opposed to drugs.