Fish hooked on meth – the consequences of freshwater pollution

Rainbow trout or Salmon trout Oncorhynchus mykiss close-up underwater

Matt Parker, University of Portsmouth and Alex Ford, University of Portsmouth

Around 269 million people worldwide use drugs each year. Often forgotten in this story is a problem of basic biology. What goes in must come out. Sewers are inundated with drugs that are excreted from the body, along with the broken down chemical components that have similar effects to the drugs themselves.

Sewage treatment plants don’t filter these things out – they were never designed for it. A lot of sewage also finds its way into rivers and coastal waters untreated. Once in the environment, drugs and their byproducts can affect wildlife. In a recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, researchers in the Czech Republic investigated how methamphetamine – a stimulant with a growing number of users worldwide – might be affecting wild brown trout.

They examined whether concentrations of methamphetamine and one of its byproducts, amphetamine, which were estimated from other studies that have measured illicit drug concentrations in waterways, could be detected in the brains of brown trout. They also looked at whether these concentrations were enough to cause the animals to become addicted.

white crystals drugs methamphetamine

The trout were exposed to the drug in large tanks over eight weeks and then put into withdrawal, going “cold turkey” in drug-free tanks for ten days. During that time, the researchers tested the fish’s preference for fresh water or water containing methamphetamine and compared this with the responses of fish that had never been exposed to the drug.

Their findings were intriguing. The methamphetamine-exposed fish preferred the water containing the drug, while no such preference was shown for the untreated fish. The researchers also found that during their withdrawal period, the methamphetamine-exposed trout moved less. The researchers interpreted this as a sign of anxiety or stress – typical signs of drug withdrawal in humans.

The brain chemistry of the exposed fish differed from the unexposed, too, with several detected changes in brain chemicals that correspond to what is seen in cases of human addiction. Even after the behavioural effects had waned after ten days of withdrawal, these markers in the brain were still present. This suggests that methamphetamine exposure could have long-lasting effects, similar to what is seen in people.

How drugs affect ecosystems and fish biology

Why should we care if trout are becoming addicted to drugs? There are several reasons.

If the trout are “enjoying” the drugs, as they appear to be in the recent study, they may be inclined to hang around pipes where effluent is discharged. We know that fish can behave similarly to what is seen in humans suffering from addiction, not only from this trial, but from several studies on different fish species. One of the hallmarks of drug addiction is a loss of interest in other activities – even those that are usually highly motivated, such as eating or reproducing. It’s possible that the fish might start to change their natural behaviour, causing problems with their feeding, breeding and, ultimately, their survival. They may, for instance, be less likely to evade predators.

Exposure to drugs not only affects the fish themselves, but their offspring. In fish, addiction can be inherited over several generations. This could have long-lasting implications for ecosystems, even if the problem was fixed now.

This is not the first study to find illicit drugs in wildlife. In 2019, scientists in the UK reported cocaine in freshwater shrimp in all 15 rivers they sampled. Interestingly, they detected illicit drugs more often than some common pharmaceuticals.

But the wider effects of those drugs remain largely unknown. There have, however, been comprehensive studies into the effects of pharmaceuticals in rivers.

Read more: Five ways fish are more like humans than you realise

Pharmaceutical pollution

Medicines do not fully break down in our bodies either and arrive at wastewater treatment plants in faeces and urine. Most are discharged with wastewater effluent, but some enter rivers by seeping from landfills or farm fields where human sewage is used as fertiliser. Wildlife living in rivers and coastal waters where effluent is discharged are exposed to cocktails of medicines, from painkillers to antidepressants.

Caged fish downstream of some water treatment plants changed sex from male to female within a few weeks due to exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals found in contraceptive pills. Recent studies have shown that antidepressants can cause a wide range of behavioural changes in aquatic organisms from aggression, attraction to light and increasing boldness.

Drug addiction is a global health concern that can devastate communities, and tackling its environmental consequences will be expensive. One study has estimated it would cost over US$50 billion (£36 billion) to upgrade wastewater treatment plants in England and Wales so that they can remove these chemicals.

Waste water discharge pipe into canal and sea

It might seem obvious that prescribed and illegal drugs designed to change behaviour in humans also change the behaviour of wildlife. But this problem is potentially far more widespread and complex. We don’t even know if synthetic chemicals in everyday household products, such as cosmetics, clothes and cleaning agents, can affect the behaviour of people and other species. An international group of scientists has urged companies and regulating bodies to check their toxic effect on behaviour as part of risk assessments of new chemicals.

We must get to grips with the amount of pharmaceuticals in our waterways. The world is some way from fixing the problems of addiction and illicit drug use. But, at the very least, more should be done to improve filtration in sewage treatment plants, and to force water companies to take more responsibility for ensuring effluent doesn’t affect wildlife.

Matt Parker, Senior Lecturer in Neuroscience and Psychopharmacology, University of Portsmouth and Alex Ford, Professor of Biology, University of Portsmouth

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Tom Halla
July 11, 2021 6:12 pm

What actual level of meth was used in the study? Close to actual levels in wastewater,or much higher? The actual amount of some drug or other chemical makes quite a difference, and silly ass L-NT claims are just that, sillyass.

Paul Johnson
Reply to  Tom Halla
July 11, 2021 9:20 pm

And just exactly how did the “researchers” obtain their meth?

Last edited 18 days ago by Paul Johnson
Reply to  Paul Johnson
July 11, 2021 11:46 pm

They work in a lab

Nick Graves
Reply to  Redge
July 12, 2021 12:21 am


Rud Istvan
July 11, 2021 6:32 pm

Dunno about the meth/fish validity. Do know because just checked, that prior to this article appearing 5 days ago there was zero in the MSM or in the scientific literature. Since then, at least 25 separate MSM articles based on this single report by my count, just going back 5 Google pages. Typical sensationalism.

BTW, as an avid trout fly fisher, browns were imported from Europe. The native North American trout species include brookies, rainbows, cutthroats, and arguably Arctic chars (technically a salmonid).

Reply to  Rud Istvan
July 11, 2021 8:05 pm

+ steelhead?

Reply to  Mr.
July 12, 2021 6:24 am

Steelhead are the same species as rainbow trout, but are anadromous (ocean or lake dwelling yet breed in freshwater rivers).

Curious George
Reply to  Rud Istvan
July 12, 2021 7:45 am

“concentrations of methamphetamine .. were estimated from other studies .. could be detected in the brains of brown trout.”
How very Scientific. No numbers at all – Scientific American style. What detection method was used, and how sensitive was it? 

Reply to  Curious George
July 12, 2021 8:28 am

The abstract which is the only part of the report not requiring $$$ says they tested at “environmentally relevant” levels of 1 microgram/liter. The abstract does not report the levels encountered in Brown Trout fisheries or in sewage, or anything else. To me, that is very telling.

Reply to  DHR
July 12, 2021 9:34 am

A person very highly addicted might be taking 100mg in a day, but that cannot be sustained. At that level his behaviour rapidly becomes too disorganized to continue and he “crashes”. If ALL that went into, say, 4 2 gallon flushes, the water from his toilet would have 100 mg/32 l or about 3mg/l. Say there was water from 10,000 other toilets without meth and a bunch of washing machines, showers and so on connected to the same sewer, and you are down to well below the 1ug/l.

Reply to  Fran
July 12, 2021 1:50 pm

The probability of 10,000 people without meth is questionable. There is 0.6 % of the American population on meth according to, What is the scope of methamphetamine misuse in the United States? | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

This means that it is possible for 60 more persons contributing to meth in your example. Therefore 60 x 3 mg/L = 180 mg/L of Meth are potentially dumped into the sewage system..

Reply to  Rud Istvan
July 12, 2021 10:01 am

From the abstract: causes addiction and behavior alteration of brown trout Salmo trutta at environmentally relevant concentrations (1 µg l−1).

That’s all the hard info you get unless you want to waste 30 bucks to pick the knits out of their may be / could be pseudo scientific claims. It must be pretty flimsy evidence since their main conclusion begins :

Our results suggest that….

They had a controlled laboratory setting and all they could come up with was an immeasurably small effect, with no statistical significance which “suggests that….” Clearly no proof of anything.

Maybe they should have looked for oestrogen or Prozac and looked for the impacts on male fertility !! I don’t doubt that pharmaceutical pollution is a real issue.

Also consider that a lot of cities draw their drinking water from rivers where other cities upstream have already dumped their “treated” sewage. Never mind the trout, what are WE drinking ?

I’ve read that in Paris (France) , tap water has, on average, already been drunk by 6 other people….

Beurk! as the French would say.

Last edited 18 days ago by Greg
Reply to  Greg
July 12, 2021 2:28 pm

I was going to post about the possibility of us humans drinking the water, later, from our taps, so kudos to you, Greg! There is also the threat of humans EATING those trout! I’m sure that will show up somewhere, later, in another scary ‘science’ report!

Rich Davis
July 11, 2021 6:44 pm

More bizarro nonsense from The Narrative

Surprising though, no reference to “a warming world”. I thought those were required words to publish pap in The Conversation?

Richard Page
Reply to  Rich Davis
July 12, 2021 7:29 am

The use of the dreaded word “pollution” has always trumped warming, climate change or other buzz words in these publications. You can pretty much guarantee that whatever steaming pile of manure it is, if it uses “pollution” in it consistently, it will be lapped up.

High Treason
July 11, 2021 7:12 pm

Great new scare-methamfishamine. Waiting for human CO2 to cop blame and too many humans also being blamed.
it is all about making us live in perpetual fear.

July 11, 2021 7:12 pm

I don’t mind the amphetamines in fish. Recently, I’ve noticed that fish hit faster and fight harder.

I was wondering what caused the change.

Reply to  H.R.
July 11, 2021 8:37 pm

Do they have rotten meth teeth like Hunter did?

Jean Parisot
July 11, 2021 7:13 pm

If this were the case, I have relatives who would already be doping their bait.

Pat from kerbob
July 11, 2021 7:45 pm

I guess this is one of those many real issues we could fix if we weren’t wasting trillion$$$ on non-existent climate emergency

Reply to  Pat from kerbob
July 12, 2021 8:50 am

Shouldn’t we just legalize Meth, and start a whole Meth-New-Deal economy with thousands of meth related jobs, industries extracting meth from sewage, etc ?

July 11, 2021 7:49 pm

I have severe ADHD, and have been taking Adderall for it for several years. It’s a mix of amphetamine salts, and is controlled as though it was a special nuclear material (i.e. one from which an atomic bomb could be made). I frequently forget to take it, and don’t notice it until I find it difficult to read. At the end of a 30 day prescription (all that is allowed by law), I always have a few left over. I don’t know how people find this stuff addictive. I suspect that the effect, if any, on brown trout would be elevated SAT scores.

Reply to  MfK
July 12, 2021 6:25 am

Good point. You may not go through withdrawals because the onset of the Add erall effect is slower than other amphetamines, or if taken by other routes.

There is a lot of research on the addiction process. Addiction happens when drugs provide a marked change in a person’s mood, to something pleasurable – high, buzz, relief of anxiety, etc. After a while, the body fights to feel normal, rather than high, when it faces the intoxicant. This is yet another homeostatis principle. The body – specifically the mind – does not want to be out of its normal state. The normal state is required for thinking, etc.

So, the body fights to overcome the impact of the intoxicant.

At our first couple of experiences with alcohol, it may have been quite dramatic. If a person drinks alcohol regularly, the person gets acclimated to the alcohol – the person does not perceive the same high or buzz.

The first one or two experiences with tobacco for many of us is also a clear example. Head spinning, vomit, etc. After a few uses, the body overcomes this effect; becomes immune to it.

So, the body is kind of suppressing or pushing down mood in order to guard against the high. A major problem is that after a while, the body is pushing its typical, usual mood DOWN into what is akin to mild depression.

So, a person with regular recreational drug use, for the high, ends up with basically a mild depression all the time, unless the drug is used. Use of the drug brings the mood not up to “high” or “buzz,” but to normal.

A person begins using the drug not to get hte high, but to get out of the depressed state, to normal.

So, a person has to use a drug to feel normal.

This is a sad state of affairs.

For some, frankly, the mood may NEVER go back to normal without the drug. There is a genuine diagnosis called “drug-induced depression.” Through regular use of alcohol, or some other drugs, a person’s mood is always in a “depressed” range.

I was helping a public clinic work on assessing mental illness candidates / applicants for public mental health services. The burden was great. One way to rule people not-eligible was to, by interview, figure out whether they had depression before regular drug use, or after.

With their report of drug use and the appearance of depression, in many cases it could be legitimately noted that the depression as an after-effect or side effect of the persistent drug use, not from other causes.
Since it was induced by regular drug use, it was not seen as a medical or biological condition, as depression otherwise might be seen.

So, they could be denied entry into the public mental health service system.

Add erall onset of action is slow. So, there is not a marked affective change from “normal” to high or buzzed. So, this entire process – callled “opponent process theory of addiction,” term borrowed from color-vision opponent process, is not happening.

Along with Add erall and other amphetamines being used for medical purposes – weight loss is the other main one – a major area where this science is used is in pain management – slow onset opiates have lower addiction potential.

Also, anxiety drugs – the benzodiazapenes – is another area. They have developed and are working to develop more slow-onset benzos. TO lower the addiction risk.

This also shows another drug phenomenon: people take prescription Add erall, or whatever amphetamine, and take it in some other route that allows the drug to give a major impact on mood – such a grind it up and snort it, or smoke it.

add erall has this amphetamine effect. So, it can be used this way. So, it has a street value.

Another major area of drug development has been to try to make drugs that chemically lose their efficacy if the original pill or capsule is not merely swallowed, but is punctured or cut or crushed. For example, with an opiate capsule, another drug is included that gets released if you break the capsule, and this other drug breaks down the opiate into something else (two or more something elses). Then, the chemicals in the capsule no longer includes an opiate, and so gives no high. So, the “high” is no longer possible by grinding up and snorting, smoking, or injecting.

So, no more street value.

All of this is great science-driven technology. Addiction is bad and illegal street markets of drugs are bad.

Reply to  TheLastDemocrat
July 12, 2021 2:38 pm

Interesting. One of my grandsons was on adderal for years, until my wife and I both retired. We were no longer able to get his adderal prescriptions filled, so he has been ‘off’ the amphetamine salts for over two years. At first it was hard for him, since he has serious problems with anger management, too. But over time he has learned to manage it it, somewhat. He’s found that cannabis is a big help for him. Most of the time. I feel that he will eventually be able to function on a more or less ‘normal’ level. He has had trouble keeping jobs, though.

Reply to  TheLastDemocrat
July 12, 2021 9:55 pm

I should add that I take Adderall XR, the extended release version. There is never any perceptible effect, other than the fact that I can concentrate, stay focused on a task with out difficulty, and read with comprehension (despite profound dyslexia).

When my neurologist first tested me for ADHD several years ago, he read the results as I sat with him. His expression was very telling. I’m retired, now, but was a very senior technical person at that time, in a very high tech field. He blinked a few times, then said “You are profoundly ADHD. I have no idea how you managed to get where you did in life.”

It wasn’t easy – but it could have been.

Abolition Man
July 11, 2021 7:55 pm

This is really serious! You mean I have to find a drug dealer before I head out fishing? That is so far out of my way! Would dynamite be a better option for getting the trout out of their drug induced doldrums? Just asking for a friend!

July 11, 2021 7:55 pm

Total BS. There’s also cyanide in water. This study reminds me of the rats that are dosed with chemicals far beyond what would be introduced to people and CANCER occurred. Oh my! Anything, even water, in excess is deadly.

July 11, 2021 8:04 pm

After reading this article, I have a new purpose in life: To spread awareness about and to defend fish against the existential crisis of systemic meth-addiction.

With some more solid studies such as this, a few computer models from interns and a whole lot of carefully crafted and focus group tested eyewash, it is within grasp to start a non-profit environmental NGO.

Now to work on how to somehow make this a climate-change and/or CoViD related matter and get some of that sweet $380B in unspent slush fund.

Reply to  AWG
July 12, 2021 3:41 am

Let me know when you get your NGO up and running, AWG.

I’ll be glad to join your staff as a Fish Counselor… at an appropriate salary, of course.

I specialize in group therapy. I run trot lines and have a seine, so getting a group of fish together for meetings is not a problem. The meetings will be well attended.

I also have a crisis intervention protocol. If a fish’s brain is fried. I detox (clean) the fish and fry the rest of the fish to balance things out. So far, I’ve been 100% successful. I’ve never had a fish relapse after undergoing my treatment.

Please let me know when you are hiring. I have been doing fish counseling pro bono, but I have bills to pay. I need to start drawing a salary so I can continue my life’s work curing meth-addicted fish.

Reply to  H.R.
July 12, 2021 6:26 am

The patient died, but the operation was a success!

Mike Dubrasich
July 11, 2021 8:26 pm

The effect on fish? Try zeroing in on the effect on people. Meth is Death. Satan’s favorite drug. Clean up the streets; the waterways will follow.

Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
July 11, 2021 8:38 pm

Meth is death, selectively. An escape plot. A veritable burden. A depraved state of mind, and a handmade tale told by morons hooked on narratives brayed for politically congruent effect. h/t Shakespeare A probable cause denied for a plausible (e.g. modern science) excuse.

Last edited 18 days ago by n.n
Paul Johnson
July 11, 2021 9:18 pm

But the larger question is: Do meth-addicted shrimp run faster on a treadmill? And more importantly, can these goofs get a grant to study it?

Paul Johnson
July 11, 2021 9:23 pm

Your trout brain on drugs:

Trout Brain.jpg
Reply to  Paul Johnson
July 11, 2021 9:28 pm

Best trout I ever tasted was in a little eatery in Scotland – dipped in Glayva, seasoned, rolled in oats, and pan fried in butter.

Reply to  Mr.
July 12, 2021 8:03 am

Best trout I ever tasted was 5 minutes out of the water, pan fried in butter.

Last edited 18 days ago by DonM
July 12, 2021 12:36 am

We must teach the fish to say “No”.

Reply to  RoHa
July 12, 2021 9:55 am

Yes, they become hooked too easily.

Barry Malcolm
Reply to  Scissor
July 13, 2021 6:30 pm

They were lured into it. Very good scissor.

July 12, 2021 12:41 am

Don’t you see we need to save the trout from drugs dumped in fresh water?

July 12, 2021 1:16 am

Admittedly, much nonsense gets published but there is real science being done in many places too.

Then there is the replication ‘crisis”. Even when specific, well defined results are reported, they need to be verified through work done by other researches or, if the reported results lead to specific enough predictions, experiments can be done to demonstrate or falsify the predictions. Any need for replication and verification is obviously predicated upon said results having some relevance to anything people might care about.

The study, as reported in this article, involves real measurements being made and real physical changes being reported from the experimental treatment. Yes dosage matters but over dosing should not be presumed. The study’s published report should make it possible to determine that aspect. The claims about fish behavioral changes are possibly more subjective than the reported chemical and anatomical changes but not necessarily. Anyone who has observed addicted humans over an adequate period has probably noticed that behavioral changes often occur although possibly one could argue that both personality changes and succumbing to drug usage are two symptoms of some underlying cause.

If measurable fish changes in brain chemistry and in behavior do result from realistic concentrations in the water then the possibility exists that animals that are not fish bur drink that water also undergo chemical and behavioral changes. There is the possibility that some of these chemicals could become concentrated in food crops and effect humans by that path. It is also the case that reprocessed water again becomes drinking water for people in some localities, leading to the possibility that non-drug users could suffer some of the same detriments as addicts or even be chemically motivated to become deliberate users. Nothing in the report suggest wild fantasies to me.

Rich Davis
Reply to  AndyHce
July 12, 2021 4:17 am

Come on Andy. Think for a second. Obviously most of the meth has to react in some way in the addict for it to have its effect. The bit that passes through to the toilet is always diluted by a much larger volume of water, which is further diluted by greywater from showers, sinks and laundries as well as the toilet water from all the people who are not meth addicts. Then add in industrial cooling water. And that’s before you consider that the effluent from water treatment plants is a tiny fraction of the flow of a river which is mostly rain and snow melt.

How is it conceivable that river water can have a concentration of meth that can affect fish in any way?

John Bell
Reply to  Rich Davis
July 12, 2021 5:46 am

Homeopathy is the correct term.

Rich Davis
Reply to  John Bell
July 12, 2021 3:59 pm

Yes, in other words a pseudoscientific crock.

Jean Parisot
Reply to  Rich Davis
July 12, 2021 9:48 am

Just overcoming the enormous dilution rate should require extraordinary evidence – before writing the paper.

Reply to  Rich Davis
July 13, 2021 7:57 pm

I don’t know the truth of the matter but the article does seem to say that the drug, or at least most of it, is excreted, either unaltered or as amphetamine. It definitely says the drug concentrations can be measured in the fish. It says that physical/chemical brain changes in the fish can be measured. This is far different than saying a computer run model reveals that additional CO2 causes more forest fires.

You have to believe they are lying about their findings to believe what you wrote here. Do you have evidence that this is so? It reads to me that you have a belief without any supporting evidence.

Last edited 16 days ago by AndyHce
Peta of Newark
July 12, 2021 1:18 am

So what are these ‘consequences’?
(Silly Q, ‘more research’)

Let’s venture a bit deeper, see if there’s any fatter fish to be fried and bingo there is.

Would you believe, Stone Throwing Fish? In a glass house also.

The is only ONE actual ‘drug’ in this whole universe.
i.e. Dopamine (ok ok, there’s a little family of them – Endorphins = Endogenous Morphine but Dopamine the the Mother & Father of ’em all)

What we and ‘most everyone call ‘drugs’ are typically chemical things = stuff that causes the release of pre-existing Dopamine inside our heads. We all know the names of a lot of them.

BUT, ‘doing things’ also releases Dopamine and makes us feel good, gives us that big warm fuzzy hug and tells us that ‘everything is fine’ Or, ‘Never better’ on occasion.
e.g. Escaping the attention of a Sabre Tooth Tiger, running down Bambi for lunch, making babies, Computer games, looking at Sputnik pictures etc etc

Their confusion about drugs is laughable:
Quote:”studies have shown that antidepressants can cause a wide range of behavioural changes in aquatic organisms from aggression, attraction to light and increasing boldness.
Sorry boys and girls, most antidepressants (the SSRIs as prescribed for us only work via the Placebo Effect) do not contain any active ingredient.
If fishes are doing what you claim, it is actually depressant drugs causing what you claim to see.
Alcohol, cannabis, sugar
What Planet are you on, easily 80% of all (human) violence is precipitated & powered by alcohol alone.

But Dopamine inside our heads also comes from the exercising of Power and Control over other people. Being bossy, superior, clever.
Making yourself out to be the Alpha male. Simply the expectation of all the privilege attached to that brings on a Dopamine High

And so it is, these Muppets give themselves away, Big Time.
(You know what I always say about ‘The Human Animal’)

Quote(1):”If the trout are “enjoying” the drugs, as they appear to be in the recent study”
Quote(2):”We must get to grips with the amount of pharmaceuticals in our waterways

Thus we’ve Got The Lot:
Puritanical fear that someone (even fish for God’s sake!!) might be actually having A Good Time and that this Must Be Controlled.
While they cannot come up with ANY good reason.
They cannot speak/say any good reason, playing with yourself while talking requires Multi- Tasking Skill and somehow, I just don’t think they’ve got even that…..

If these folks were any more transparent they’d disappear entirely.
Along with shed-loads of similarly powered Junk Science.
here’s hoping eh

(There won’t be a lot left left will there…..)

Last edited 18 days ago by Peta of Newark
Reply to  Peta of Newark
July 13, 2021 8:01 pm

If you believe what you write, you haven’t ever tried any of those drugs. Not that I’m recommending them but your complaint is nonsense.

July 12, 2021 1:23 am

Were not animal studies prohibited as animal cruelty, even when there was an overwhelming human need for testing? I’ve not been assulted or panhandled by a single fish. Certainly there was no demonstrable need for this study when we have worldwide acceptance of experimental public health studies on humans.
The only feasible practical lesson to learn from this is that civilization needs law enformcement of drug laws, even if the only purpose is to protect wildlife.
The only reason to publicize this particular result is wealth shaming, in service of a Marxist revolutionary agenda.

Reply to  dk_
July 13, 2021 8:03 pm

You appear to be angling for a job as chief censor.

John Pickens
July 12, 2021 4:16 am

“Sewage treatment plants don’t filter these things out – they were never designed for it.”

This is a totally false assertion. And puts the lie to the entire reason for this article and its “concern”

In the US, municipal sewage treatment plants use bacterial degradation in aerated and/or oxygenated treatment tanks to digest and degrade sewage.
The solids resulting from this degradation are then settled and filtered out of the water leaving the clean effluent for discharge from the plant.

Even non biologically active chemical contaminants present in the influent water are vastly reduced by this process.

While it is possible to detect many of these drug compounds and their metabolites in treated effluent, detection doesn’t mean there is an effect on exposed fish.

The techniques used for detection of these trace contaminants are extremely sensitive, and the actual levels found in the effluent streams must be specified in the research papers and news articles or they are worthless.

Reply to  John Pickens
July 15, 2021 12:28 am

Some years ago the local water district monthly bulletin reassured the public by saying that the funny taste in the tap water was simply herbicide runoff from the regions farms. No need to worry, our water meets or exceeds every Federal and State standard.

What are the Federal water supply standards for each of the illegal drugs?

July 12, 2021 5:22 am

In my opinion it would be better for society to work on water and wastewater infrastructure than to spend any time on the climate change scam

July 12, 2021 6:14 am

I remember reading a study done on the water quality of the Potomac River. This was around 2017 IIRC. Then the warning bells were been rung for the high level of birth control residues in the river water. I think the feminist and pro-abortion crowd put an end to anymore of that nonsense. So… I guess now its meth. Maybe we can do something about water quality now, without offending the perpetually outraged. How large is the meth lobby?

Reply to  Philip
July 12, 2021 7:11 am

Not large, but they’re highly motivated.

Don Thompson
Reply to  Philip
July 12, 2021 7:30 am

You are correct. It isn’t true that sewage treatment plants don’t remove contaminants, but it is true that the treatments are not effective for all types of contamination. The potential damage from hormones, endocrine disrupters and chemicals such as PFOA and PFOS need to be studied, and effective approaches to removing chemicals that actually cause harm need to be addressed.

I think that actual pollution issues need to be addressed rather than hysteria over CO2 that will destroy Western economies.

Reply to  Philip
July 12, 2021 8:16 am

There isn’t just one lobby.

Tijuana is one of the big ones. Another big lobby is just south of Brownsville.

Biden doesn’t require them to come through the lobby anymore though. They can enter through any door or window

Reply to  Philip
July 12, 2021 9:56 am

What I can’t figure out is why naturally produced hormones – various estrogens, testosterone, corticosteroids and soon – are not seen as a problem in effluent. They also are biologically active. Think of a horse farm runnoff. Pregnant mares are used to produce premarin, a mix of 17 estrogens that used to be the only menopausal hormone available. Now bioidentical 17beta-estradiol in patches and creams is preferable.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Philip
July 12, 2021 4:11 pm

I remember the Charles River in Boston (pronunciation guide: Chahlz Rivah in Bawstun) from the late 1960s. That was wicked bad watah quality. Nothing today compares.

July 12, 2021 6:46 am

Maybe there’s more info in the links but I am curious what the method is for determining a trout’s preference for fresh water or water laced with smack.

July 12, 2021 7:37 am

A scientifically valid study would use meth concentrations equivalent to levels detected in nature. Of course, there’s never be a shortage of useless experiments based on dubious leaps in logic.

Of much greater concern, (and much closer to home) is the unrestricted use of pesticides and diversion of natural fisheries by Mexican cartels on U.S. public land. Essentially, vetted (and well armed teams) invade and occupy public land conducive to pot farming and divert waterways and spray massive quantities of herbicides and pesticides to grow the product.

Large populations of animals throughout to food web have been found poisoned to death. Initially Conservation Wardens were outgunned by these savages. Thankfully, the Wardens have formed a team of special operators to take down these vermin.

If you choose to smoke pot grown by these cartels, you are contributing to the problem. You might also want to read up on the massive doses of poison they are spraying on the dope you smoke.

Google “The Weed Wardens” to learn more.

Joao Martins
July 12, 2021 8:06 am

“The researchers interpreted this as a sign of anxiety or stress – typical signs of drug withdrawal in humans.”


“Recent studies have shown that antidepressants can cause a wide range of behavioural changes in aquatic organisms from aggression, attraction to light and increasing boldness.”


Fish psychotic emergency!

Urgent to establish fish shrink clinics everywhere! Shrinks must learn how to dive and pass an accelerated course on fish language!

Send the money, please!

July 12, 2021 8:48 am

Just “actual” in Germany
The salmon of a rearing in the Sauerland behaved mysteriously. But now it became clear why the fish were choking out. Probably cocaine was involved.

Last edited 18 days ago by Krishna Gans
John the Econ
July 12, 2021 10:23 am

Years ago I recall a study citing the effects on fish brought about by the hormones excreted by those on birth control pills. So if that can happen, I don’t see why this isn’t either.

For years, many water conservation advocates have argued that water from processed sewage is safe for consumption and should be mixed into our processed fresh water supplies. Clearly, this water is not as well processed as we’ve been led to believe.

July 12, 2021 12:55 pm

As we speak someone is spiking a fishing hole with meth hoping that it not only attracts trout, but it also gives trout the “munchies”

Tom F
July 12, 2021 2:50 pm

I grew up in a town where the water was moderately chlorinated. My cousins grew up on unchlorinated water. When visiting, we disliked each others water to the point it was often mentioned. These results could be explained by simple conditioning, because that’s the condition under which the trout were fed and housed for two months. They preferred the familiar. Preferences sometimes defy logic. Measuring location is one thing, measuring relative activity levels is another. This brings up if and how these observations were blinded as to the treatment group.

Tom F
July 12, 2021 3:39 pm

After a little reading, actual meth concentrations in fresh water are a couple nanograms per liter at most. This trout study was in micrograms per liter…roughly a thousand times that found in fresh water. In wastewater, maybe a microgram, in fresh water? Divide it by a thousand.

July 12, 2021 3:54 pm

These kinds of studies do not have a good reputation, the results tend to be ‘fishy’. Think Lönnstedt. However, they reappear in the media constantly, usually with a different evil chemical the cause.

One wonders about this result: “Caged fish downstream of some water treatment plants changed sex from male to female within a few weeks due to exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals found in contraceptive pills.”

The link to the abstract of the paper is included within the quote, yet there is nothing about fish changing sex, only on measures of ‘plasma vitellogenin’ and the sources and mechanisms are entirely speculative. Nothing was measured in the water.

Fish that change sex usually do so as part of a life history strategy – it is well known in many fish and they are called sequential hermaphrodites. Caging fish downstream from sewage inputs probably increases available food significantly – so it would not be surprising if more resources got fish thinking about producing eggs.

Gunga Din
July 12, 2021 5:12 pm

Wastewater Treatment doesn’t “filter” anything. (as in capturing and removing as a sieve might do)
Perhaps they were thinking of a “Trickling Filter”? That process doesn’t actually filter anything. It slowly drops the wastewater over “slime covered rocks” where the slime biologically digest the organics back into it’s basic molecules, also known as “fertilizer”.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Gunga Din
July 12, 2021 5:16 pm

Comminutors and such may remove/grind up large objects before they enter the treatment process.

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