Mussels Test Positive for Opioids in Seattle’s Water

Scientists at the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife have found that mussels in Seattle’s waters are testing positive for opioids.

The finding suggests “a lot of people” are taking oxycodone in the Puget Sound, researchers say.

Scientists used mussels as a way to test pollution in Seattle’s waters and discovered high enough oxycodone levels for the shellfish to test positive.

Mussels do not metabolise opioids, but some fish can become addicted.

Mussels are filter-feeders, which means they filter water for nutrients to nourish themselves. In the process, they end up storing pollutants in their tissues, which makes them a prime indicator species.

State researchers distributed clean mussels around the Puget Sound and extracted them months later to test the waters.

Of the 18 locations scientists used, three showed traces of oxycodone. The drug traces were not enough to get any humans high from consumption, but enough to indicate a problem, officials said.

“What we eat and what we excrete goes into the Puget Sound,” Jennifer Lanksbury, a biologist at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, told CBS News affiliate KIRO.

“It’s telling me there’s a lot of people taking oxycodone in the Puget Sound area.”

Washington’s King County, home to Seattle and the Puget Sound, saw a record number of drug deaths in 2016, with 332 opioid-related overdoses, according to a University of Washington study.

Also in 2016, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated that nearly 300lbs (136kg) of pharmaceuticals, personal care products and industrial compounds ended up in the Puget Sound each day, some at high enough concentrations to negatively impact fish.

Kings County Wastewater Management told local media their system can filter many contaminants, but not specifically drugs.

While looking into ways to combat addiction, a University of Utah study found that zebrafish willingly dose themselves with opioids and show symptoms of withdrawal if the drugs were removed.

The Puget Sound Institute, a partner in the study, said none of the opioid-positive mussels were near commercial shellfish beds.

The levels of opioids in the waters were thousands of times smaller than a human dose, but data shows that the US opioid epidemic has filtered down to other species in America’s ecosystems.

“People should be wary,” Ms Lanksbury told KIRO7 News.

“Hopefully our data shows what’s out there and can get the process started for cleaning up our waters.”

The Department of Fish and Wildlife said the test was a one-time study, but that it will seek additional funding to keep testing Washington’s waters.

Source : BBC

Mediterranean-style Stewed Shrimp and Scallop with Orzo


2 tsp olive oil
1 leek (white and light green parts only), chopped
1 carrot, diced
half bulb fennel, cored and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp each smoked paprika and ground cumin
pinch hot pepper flakes
1 can (796 mL) no-salt-added diced tomatoes
200 g jumbo shrimp (21 to 25 count), peeled and deveined
200 g sea scallops
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley


1 cup orzo
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice


  1. To make orzo, in large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and stir in lemon zest and juice. Set aside and keep warm.
  2. In large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook leek, carrot and fennel, stirring occasionally, until softened and light golden, about 7 minutes.
  3. Stir in garlic, half each of the pepper and salt, the paprika, cumin and hot pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Stir in tomatoes and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 6 to 8 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle shrimp and scallops with remaining pepper and salt. Stir into tomato mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are pink and scallops are opaque throughout, 5 to 7 minutes.
  6. Stir in parsley before serving with the orzo.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Mediterranean Flavours

In Pictures: Fish and Chips of Restaurants in London, UK

Is Fruit Juice Healthier Than Soda?

It’s great that you’re trying to cut back on soda, but fruit juice isn’t the best substitute. “While the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in fruit juice give it a nutritional edge over soda, it can have the same—or more—sugars and calories,” says Maxine Siegel, R.D., who heads CR’s food-testing lab.

For example, a cup of grape juice has 36 grams of sugars—compared with 27 grams of sugars in a cup of grape soda. “The sugars are natural, but your body processes them in the same way as the added sugars in soda,” Siegel explains. Compared with eating the fruit itself, the sugars in juice are digested and released into your bloodstream faster, causing blood glucose levels to spike.

This triggers the body to pump out large amounts of insulin, which can prompt fat storage and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. In whole fruit, the sugars are encased inside the plant’s cells, so your body has to work harder to break them down. The fiber that fruit contains further slows digestion and, Siegel says, “will likely fill you up long before you eat enough fruit to consume the amount of sugars in a glass of juice.”

Another consideration: If you’re cutting down on soda because the carbonation bothers you, the acidic juices from citrus fruits can also irritate your stomach.

Your best bet is to trade soda for water into which you add either some fruit slices or just a splash of fruit juice for flavor.

Source: Consumer Reports

Blackcurrant Dye Could Make Hair Coloring Safer, More Sustainable

Whether they’re trying to hide some gray or embrace a new or quirky color, people adore hair dyes. But some of these dyes may be harmful to humans and the environment. Now in a study appearing in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists report that they have developed a natural, non-toxic hair dye derived from blackcurrant skins that is as durable as conventional dyes and capable of sustaining hair color through multiple washings.

More than 5,000 substances are used to make hair dyes, according to the National Cancer Institute. Although human studies are inconclusive, findings suggest that some of these ingredients may promote cancer in animals. In some cases, these dyes can also trigger allergic reactions in humans. And, research suggests a large percentage of these colorants simply go down the drain, eventually ending up in rivers, lakes and streams where may pose an environmental hazard. To address these concerns, Richard S. Blackburn, Christopher Rayner and colleagues at the University of Leeds sought to create a natural, sustainable hair dye made from blackcurrant skins, which manufacturers usually discard after juicing.

The researchers extracted and purified a group of pigments from the skins called anthocyanins, which commonly produce colors ranging from pink to violet in fruit, vegetables and flowers. The team used these pigments in a dye paste and applied it to bleached human hair, producing a vivid blue color, and they could produce reds and violets by modifying the dye formulation. There were no significant changes in these new hair colors after 12 shampoos. After analyzing how these natural compounds fix to the hair, they concluded that anthocyanin-based blackcurrant dyes are comparable to conventional colorants and could become an important component in dye mixtures used to produce a variety of hair colors and shades.

Source: American Chemical Society

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