Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sad fish? It's in the water

First they give the bees cocaine and discover the obvious, then we have to worry about depressed fish.
What do you do with your old medications? The Benadryl a decade past its expiration date, the Bactrim that gave you hives, the countless antibiotics that – never mind the strict injunction to do so – you did not finish? You flush them down the toilet.
Not so fast. Y0u could end contributing to piscine melancholia.
(A while back, post knee surgery, I had a stash of pain medication so vile & nauseating I wanted to remove it post-haste from my presence and the house. In a fit of compunction I asked one of my brothers, the über-environmentalist among them, what was the environmentally correct way to get rid of prescription drugs. The answer: Huh? Flush them down the toilet. )
Nothing is that simple. In 2006 chemists found antidepressants in the brains of fish downstream from water treatment plants. Experiments with larval FATHEAD MINNOWS showed that fish with trace elements of Effexor failed to react quickly enough to predatory behavior, and hence, did not survive long. So when hybrid striped bass gobbled up the mellow fathead minnows, they too got a dose. In other experiments, when the bass were exposed to Prozac they started dieting and went vertical in the fish tank:

Which leaves the question of what to do with our old Effexor, Prozac, Zoloft and other drugs of choice wide open.
One thought: feed them to squirrels. Apparently the latest delicacy in Britain. But I am thinking that happily medicated squirrels would be less likely to leap valiantly onto my bird feeders. Or maybe not.

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