Perch with 23 medicines
“We have found the remains of 23 medicines in a perch,” says researcher Jerker Fick, who examined 70 perch in the river Fyris, where it passes through the city of Uppsala. Fick’s study was commissioned by Naturvårdsverket (the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency). The perch was from the part of Fyris where the sewage treatment works is located. Since the sewage works isn’t built to handle medicinal residue from urine and feces, these stay in the water. Nevertheless, Fick was surprised to find 23 medicines in the muscles of the fish.
“The contents of the medicines are low,” he explains. “They pose no problem to humans, but possibly for the fish. We don’t know. A human has to consume 184 kilos (405 lbs) of fish in order to get the contents of one pill. Or drink four liters (one US gallon) for 32 years.”
Jan Christiansson at Naturvårdsverket doesn’t think the results are alarming.
“But we have to take a closer look at them,” he says. “Many of the medications break down quickly in nature, while others don’t break down at all.” Some of the medications found were: Alfuzosin (a prostate medicine), Flekainid (a heart medicine), Hydroxyzin (an anxiety medicine), Nefazodon (an antidepressant), and Oxazepam (an anti-anxiety agent).