If you eat in the same types of places I do, I doubt you’ll ever hear a waiter offer you the salmon special with a side of narcotics.
But if you eat salmon from the Pacific Northwest, that could be what you’re getting – according to a new study of both the fish and the waters they swim in.
It’s getting tougher and tougher to find fish safe enough to eat these days!
Forget the images of healthy, vibrant salmon rushing up the pristine rivers of Washington and Oregon…and think instead of drugged fish slogging through a dirty soup so slowly that they can get plucked out practically by hand.
When federal toxicologists from the NOAA conducted tests on both the waters of a popular salmon spot, the Puget Sound, and the tissue of the fish themselves, they found at least 81 drugs and chemicals – including the statin Lipitor, NSAIDs like Advil and Aleve, and antidepressants like Zoloft, Paxil, and Prozac.
Sure, maybe the fish were just trying to control their cholesterol levels…and alleviate some muscle pain from all that spawning…and lift their mood after all those the sunless gray days in the area.
But that’s not even close to the full list. Scientists also found Valium, OxyContin and Flonase along with antiseptics, anticoagulants, antibiotics, and cocaine.
The researchers behind the study blame the wastewater that flows into the Puget which, sure, is treated. But, as the new study shows very clearly, modern treatment just can’t keep up with everything turning up in our “natural” bodies of water. (And that goes for your tap water as well as the wastewater.)
Amazingly, however, the researchers ran a set of similar tests on fish in the Nisqually estuary, which doesn’t have any direct wastewater. While they weren’t as doped-up as Puget Sound salmon, fish in those supposedly “clean” waters were ALSO pumped full of chemicals.
And while wild fish near civilization are loaded with everything from prescriptions to hard drugs, deep-water fish contain dangerously higher levels of mercury. And don’t even get me started on farmed fish, which are pumped up with antibiotics and then fed dye pellets to rid them of their sickly color.
All I can say here is do the best you can. If you want to eat salmon, get wild-caught fish from Alaska, which will likely be the safest of the lot (but there are no guarantees here anymore).
And if you’re ready to throw your hands up and quit fish, at least be sure to take an omega-3 supplement to get the benefits…without a side of drugs and chemicals.