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Scientists discover opioids in Puget Sound mussels
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Scientists discover opioids in Puget Sound mussels

Scientists discover opioids in Puget Sound mussels
Photo Credit: Pixabay
Scientists have discovered mussels are contaminated with opioids in Puget Sound. “It’s telling me there's a lot of people taking oxycodone in the Puget Sound area," a biologist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said.

Scientists discover opioids in Puget Sound mussels

The opioid epidemic has now made its way into marine life in Washington’s Puget Sound. Scientists who track pollution have for the first time, discovered traces of oxycodone in mussels.

>> Read more trending news 

But scientists say those mussels don’t end up on your plate. 

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, or WDFW, gets clean mussels from Penn Cove on Whidby Island and puts them into areas they want to test for water contamination – like in urban waters.

And they’ve discovered there’s enough oxycodone in Elliot Bay for mussels to test positive. 

“What we eat and what we excrete goes into the Puget Sound,” said Jennifer Lanksbury, a biologist at the WDFW. 

Scientists deposit mussels in cages in 18 locations. They teamed up with the Puget Sound Institute to analyze the data and discovered that three locations were positive for trace amounts of oxycodone - two near Bremerton’s shipyard and Elliot Bay near Harbor Island.

“It’s telling me there's a lot of people taking oxycodone in the Puget Sound area. The contamination is likely coming from wastewater treatment plants,” Lanksbury said. 

>> Trending: Sunken treasure worth $17 billion on 300-year-old shipwreck discovered off Colombian coast

After people consume oxycodone, some of it ends up in the toilet, and it goes into wastewater. The water gets filtered, but King County Wastewater Management said although their system can catch a lot of contaminants, it can't specifically filter out drugs. 

>> Trending: Great Pacific Garbage Patch 16 times larger than estimates: 87,000 tons of plastic and growing

And opioids, antibiotics, drugs for depression - mussels are testing positive for all of it

“Those are definitely chemicals that are out there in the nearshore waters and they may be having an impact on the fish and shellfish that live there,” Lanksbury said.

Again, Lanksbury says people have nothing to worry about when it comes to eating mussels from a restaurant or shop because they come from clean locations.

“They’re clean and healthy and delicious. We love to eat mussels from the Puget Sound. We use them for our food and we use them for contaminant analysis,” Lanksbury said. 

But the study shows it’s another sign of what's ending up in the water and harming marine life. 

“People should be wary,” Lanksbury said. “Hopefully our data shows what’s out there and can get the process started for cleaning up our waters.” 

>> Trending: Your bottled water is probably contaminated with tiny plastic particles, health experts say

This was a one-time study for prescription drugs, but Fish and Wildlife officials will seek more funding to continue testing and tracking what happening to in the water over time. 

Read More
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  • Winning over the votes of a last rebel group of House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday evening that she would agree to serve no more than four years as Speaker of the House, accepting a plan from younger lawmakers in her party which would limit senior House leadership to a maximum of eight years in those high profile positions. “I am comfortable with the proposal and it is my intention to abide by it whether it passes or not,” Pelosi said in a statement, as Democrats planned a vote by mid-February on the term limit plan. Pelosi’s agreement seems to pave the way for her to bring on board a final group of Democrats who had demanded an overhaul of their party’s leadership in the House, which is dominated by lawmakers – like Pelosi – who are in their 70’s. “I firmly believe that the reforms we have advocated for will create advancement opportunities for the next generation of Democratic leaders and will strengthen our Caucus,” said Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA). “I have pushed for new leadership because I want to see generational change in the Democratic Caucus,” said Rep. Earl Perlmutter (D-CO). “We will support and vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House in the 116th Congress,” a group including Perlmutter and six other Democratic holdouts said in a statement. BREAKING: Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, a Democrat, says she'll serve no more than four years as House speaker, all but ensuring she'll be elected to the post in January. — AP Politics (@AP_Politics) December 12, 2018 While Pelosi had easily won a vote of House Democrats after Thanksgiving to be the next Speaker, there were still questions about whether she could secure 218 votes on the floor of the House in January. This agreement will seal the deal, as Pelosi said she would serve no more than four more years as Speaker. Pelosi is the first House member to serve as Speaker – then see her party lose the minority, and return as Speaker – since Sam Rayburn did that in the mid-1950’s. While Republicans in the House had embraced term limits for committee chairs, the GOP had not applied those limits to the Speaker. Pelosi had expressed confidence that she would be able to grind out enough votes to win a floor showdown as Speaker, but in the end, she decided to cut a deal to end any suspense. “Over the summer, I made it clear that I see myself as a bridge to the next generation of leaders,” Pelosi said in a statement, “a recognition of my continuing responsibility to mentor and advance new Members into positions of power and responsibility in the House Democratic Caucus.”
  • Police say the suspect in a recent double murder case showed up at the Tulsa County Jail Wednesday afternoon. Robert Griffin said he wanted to turn himself in and he didn’t want to talk to police. Officers found two dead bodies in an east Tulsa apartment on Friday while responding to a shots fired call.  Investigators discovered a door ajar at the Whispering Oaks Apartments near 11th and Mingo. Police believe the crime happened during a marijuana deal. Detectives are still searching for another suspect.  
  • Scientists are seeing surprising melting in Earth’s polar regions at times they don’t expect, like winter, and in places they don’t expect, like eastern Antarctica. New studies and reports issued this week at a major Earth sciences conference paint one of the bleakest pictures yet of dramatic warming in the Arctic and Antarctica. Alaskan scientists described to The Associated Press Tuesday never-before-seen melting and odd winter problems, including permafrost that never refroze this past winter and wildlife die-offs. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Tuesday released its annual Arctic report card, detailing the second warmest year on record in the Arctic and problems, including record low winter sea ice in parts of the region, increased toxic algal blooms, which are normally a warm water phenomenon, and weather changes in the rest of the country attributable to what’s happening in the far North. “The Arctic is experiencing the most unprecedented transition in human history,” report lead author Emily Osborne, chief of Arctic research for NOAA, said Tuesday.
  • “Kids’ stuff. Kids’ stuff and children books.” Home surveillance cameras captured that conversation between two Florida women Monday afternoon as they snatched five packages from the porch of a Tampa-area home, WFTS reported. In a news release, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said the thefts occurred around 1:30 p.m. in a Riverview subdivision. The women drove away in a dark-colored Volvo SUV, WTVT reported. In a Facebook post, Neal Rivera posted the surveillance video and still shots of the porch pirates. 'These nice young lady’s (sic) were worried that someone would steal our unattended packages so they thought they would take them home and keep them safe. I’m sure they will bring them back later,” he wrote. Rivera said his phone went off with camera notifications when the packages were delivered, and then it went off again when they were taken, WTVT reported. “I’m not upset about the items they took,” Rivera told the television station. “It was the attitude they came in and they made a comment, 'Oh, look it's kids’ clothes. It's Children's Place.' And they were like excited about it. So, they knew they were talking little kids stuff.” On Tuesday, Rivera’s phone went off again, but this time his surveillance camera recorded an act of kindness, WTVT reported. >> Woman steals package, finds it’s filled with superworms “I got a notification on the front door, and of course I quickly went to my phone. And as I look at my front door, it's our church family coming and dropping off gifts here, waving at the camera saying ‘I hope you get your stuff back, but here's something in the meantime,’” Rivera told the television station. “I don’t have to worry about my kids not having something. That's not my concern. I just want the people caught.' In his Facebook post, Rivera said he would not have cared if the women had stolen items he bought for himself. “If they would have just asked I would have bought their kids even more than they stole,” he wrote. Another Riverview man, Mike Hayes, filed a report with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, including video that appears to show the same two women taking packages from his porch, WFTS reported. The Sheriff’s Office is asking anybody with information to call them at (813) 247-8200.
  • Delta Air Lines said it will ban service and support animals under 4 months old, and will also ban emotional support animals on flights longer than eight hours. The change, effective Dec. 18, is the latest tightening of policies on service animals and emotional support animals by the airline.  >> Read more trending news  The company said in a Monday announcement that it has seen an 84 percent increase in incidents reported involving service and support animals in 2016 and 2017, “including urination/defecation, biting” and a mauling by a 50-pound dog. Delta said its new policy aligns with the CDC vaccination policy, and the limit on emotional support animals on long flights lines up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Carrier Access Act. “These updates support Delta’s commitment to safety and also protect the rights of customers with documented needs -- such as veterans with disabilities -- to travel with trained service and support animals,” John Laughter, Delta senior vice president of corporate safety, security and compliance, said in a statement. Some of the airline’s policy changes earlier in the year have prompted criticism from groups representing people who use service animals, including those who use pit bulls.  The new policy takes effect for tickets booked Dec. 18 or later. Regardless of booking date, it will also take effect for flights Feb. 1 or later. Delta said it will contact customers to adjust reservations if the policy affects them. More information on the airline’s service and support animal policy is at Delta.com.