Our Rivers On Drugs

Join the Cary Institute and ecologist Emma Rosi, PhD, on October 13 at 11:00am for a presentation on how prescription and illicit drugs impact freshwater quality, aquatic food webs, and the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs, and how citizens can make a difference.

Pharmaceutical pollution can alter the biology and behavior of aquatic life in many ways. Hormonal compounds found in birth control have been shown to feminize fish. Antidepressant exposure can alter fish feeding behavior, incite aggression, and can make tadpoles more susceptible to predation. Cary-led studies have found that antidepressants and amphetamines disrupt the lifecycle of aquatic insects and antibiotics shift the composition of stream bacteria.

We know that wastewater treatment facilities are not designed to filter out most pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceuticals also enter freshwaters directly via failing sewage pipes, sewer overflows, and agricultural runoff. Complicating potential remedies is that the federal government does not require testing and has not set limits for drugs in water.

Cary research is advancing understanding of the impacts of pharmaceutical compounds on stream ecosystems. Through field studies and experiments in our Artificial Stream Facility, we are investigating how stream life is altered by pharmaceutical mixtures, which pharmaceuticals are passed up the food web and how other forms of pollution, like micro-plastics, amplify the problem.

Registration for this free program is below or 860-435-9851.

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