Some fish got hooked – on meth.
Scientific researchers got brown trout addicted to the drug in a test that had them swimming in a tank with meth-laced water for eight weeks, a study published Tuesday said.
When they were later given an option of a clean stream or one with methamphetamine the trout preferred the tainted water – a sign they were experiencing withdrawal, the researchers said in The Journal of Experimental Biology.
The study, which aimed to test the effects of drugs seeping into natural waterways, also found the trout moved around less after meth exposure than their drug-free counterparts.
The study’s head researcher told CNN that as the drug seeps through the filtration process at water treatment plants, drug-addicted fish could seek out water change behavioral patterns and throw the ecosystem into disarray.
Wastewater plants are not equipped to remove drugs such as meth that have seeped into the water supply. Addicted fish may gather around where the plants are discharging water, the researcher warned.
Prescription drugs may also have a potential negative impact on fish and wildlife, said Pavel Horky of the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague.
“Current research from teams around the world undoubtedly shows their adverse impact on ecoystems, which in turn can influence humans,” he told CNN.
But chemical biologist Randall Peterson with the University of Utah urged caution about the study in The Scientist magazine. He said he expected waterways to have less concentration of meth than what was used in the study – 1 micogram per liter.
“When I go fly fishing this evening, which I plan to do, I don’t anticipate that I’ll be wading around in water with anywhere near that much,” Peterson said, although Horky estimated the level was “quite common,” The Scientist reported.