Friday, February 15, 2013

15:02:2013 -- Psychiatric Drugs Changing Fish Behavior

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And what do U think happens when U eat these fish?

Psychiatric Drugs Changing Fish Behavior

An European Perch, (Perca fluviatilis).

Image credit: 
Image Courtesy of Bent Christensen

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Pharmaceuticals are reaching waterways and affecting the way fish act.

Originally published: 
Feb 14 2013 - 2:00pm
Ker Than, ISNS Contributor

(ISNS) -- Psychiatric medicines that are excreted by humans and find their way into waterways can change the behavior of fish in rivers and streams, scientists report in a new study.

Researchers found that wild European perch exposed to the anxiety-moderating drug oxazepam in an experimental pond in Sweden were less fearful and are more aggressive feeders.

Ecologists worry that such changes in fish behavior could lead to unexpected ecological consequences, including changing the composition of species in waterways and increasing the risk of potentially toxic algal blooms.

"This is only one of hundreds of kinds of [pharmaceutical drugs] that are passed through wastewater plants, and we don't know what their environmental effects will be," said study coauthor Micael Jonsson, an ecologist at Sweden's Umea University.

The new study, detailed in this week's issue of the journal Science, also found that water downstream from sewage treatment plants in Sweden contain concentrations of Oxazepam that experiments have shown are capable of changing fish behavior.

The findings add to a growing body of evidence that pharmaceutical drugs can do more than just poison fish or change their physical characteristics. An earlier study conducted by scientists in Minnesota at St. Cloud State University showed that fathead minnows exposed to various antidepressants in the laboratory were slower at avoiding predators.

This latest study expands the list of mood altering chemicals to a different class of drugs – those used to treat anxiety disorders.

"Before this, people had talked at [scientific] meetings about how you would expect this kind of drug to affect fish behavior, but what these researchers have done is show, very elegantly, how fish behavior has changed, and not just one aspect either, but several aspects," said Patrick Phillips, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Troy, N.Y., who was not involved in the study.

Perch are normally shy and hunt in schools. But Jonsson and his team found that those exposed to Oxazepam were bolder, less interested in hanging out with the group, and more likely to strike out on their own to explore novel, potentially dangerous areas.

"We were actually a bit surprised because [Oxazepam] is supposed have a soothing effect. Humans usually become calmer. But we saw the opposite in fish," Jonsson said.

Normally, perch are constantly on the lookout for larger predator fish. The researchers speculate that the medicated perch are bolder because they are calmer.

"When they get exposed to this drug, they lose that inhibition, so they don't care anymore," Jonsson said.

Not only were the medicated perch braver, they also ate faster. In the long term, this combination of fearlessness and a larger appetite could lead to ecological disturbances that are hard to predict, scientists warn. Perch feed on tiny microorganisms called zooplankton, which in turn feed on algae.

"If the zooplankton decrease in number, the algae might increase, and you could have a situation where you have more algal blooms," Jonsson said.

Alternatively, the perch population might actually decrease because drugs have made them foolhardy towards predators. But then again, "we don't know how larger fish will react to this kind of medication," Jonsson said.

There is also worry that some drug effects on wildlife won't be apparent for years or decades.

"We're just beginning to understand what the ultimate consequences may be from these kinds of exposures," said research hydrologist Dana Kolpin, of the USGS Toxics Substances Hydrology Program, who also did not participate in the study.

According to scientists, it's also likely that the ecological changes they worry about are already happening.

"It's not all of a sudden that [medicines] are in the environment," Kolpin said. "There are papers going back to the 1970s that say pharmaceuticals are potential environmental contaminants. We just didn't have the analytical tools until more recently [to prove it]."

Most studies have shown that humans are unlikely to be affected by trace amounts of drugs in drinking water, but Kolpin suggests more research is needed.

"We just do not know enough about aspects such as sensitive populations" – including infants and pregnant women – "or effects from chronic exposures to complex chemical mixtures," Kolpin said.

Jonsson and his team stressed that the solution to the problem is not to stop medicating ill people, but to develop ways for sewage treatment plants to capture environmentally hazardous drugs.

Experts say technology exists that can reduce, if not fully purge, drugs from waste water, but upgrading every waste treatment plant would be prohibitively expensive.

A more sensible, and realistic, approach would be to identify those classes of medicines that are most harmful to wildlife.

"We are realizing that some compounds are worse actors than others, and if we can identify those, then we can be more targeted in our approach for preventing their release into the environment," Kolpin said.

Ker Than is a freelance writer based in Southern California.

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How to Digitally Record/Video a UFO sighting:

Como registar digitalmente ou gravar um vídeo de um avistamento de um UFO:

Stabilize the camera on a tripod. If there is no tripod, then set it on top of a stable, flat surface. If that is not possible lean against a wall to stabilize your body and prevent the camera from filming in a shaky, unsteady manner.

Estabilize a camera com um tripé. Se não tiver um tripé, então coloque-a em cima de uma superfície estável. Se não for possível, então encoste-se a uma parede para estabilizar o corpo e evitar que a camera registe de maneira tremida e instável.

Provide visual reference points for comparison. This includes the horizon, treetops, lampposts, houses, and geographical landmarks (i.e., Horsetooth Reservoir, Mt. Adams, etc.) Provide this in the video whenever is appropriate and doesn’t detract from what your focus is, the UFO.

Forneça pontos visuais de referência para comparação. Isso inclui o horizonte, cimo das árvores, postes de iluminação, pontos de referência geográficos (como o Reservatório de Horsetooth, Mone Adams, etc) Forneça esses pontos no vídeo sempre que for apropriado e não se distraia do que é o seu foco, o UFO/a Nave.

Narrate your videotape. Provide details of the date, time, location, and direction (N,S,E,W) you are looking in. Provide your observations on the weather, including approximate temperature, windspeed, any visible cloud cover or noticeable weather anomalies or events. Narrate on the shape, size, color, movements, approximate altitude of the UFO, etc and what it appears to be doing. Also include any unusual physical, psychological or emotional sensations you might have. Narrate any visual reference points on camera so they correlate with what the viewer will see, and thereby will be better able to understand.

Faça a narração do vídeo. Forneça pormenores sobre a data, hora, local e direcção (Norte, Sul, Este, Oeste) que está a observar. Faça observações sobre as condições atmosféricas, incluindo a temperatura aproximada, velocidade do vento, quantidade de nuvens, anomalias ou acontecimentos meteorológicos evidentes. Descreva a forma, o tamanho, a cor, os movimentos, a altitude aproximada onde se encontra o UFO/nave, etc e o que aparenta estar a fazer. Inclua também quaisquer aspectos pouco habituais de sensações físicas, psicológicas ou emocionais que possa ter. Faça a narração de todos os pontos de referência visual que o espectador irá ver e que, deste modo, será capaz de compreender melhor.

Be persistent and consistent. Return to the scene to videotape and record at this same location. If you have been successful once, the UFO sightings may be occurring in this region regularly, perhaps for specific reasons unknown, and you may be successful again. You may also wish to return to the same location at a different time of day (daylight hours) for better orientation and reference. Film just a minute or two under “normal” circumstances for comparison. Write down what you remember immediately after. As soon as you are done recording the experience/event, immediately write down your impressions, memories, thoughts, emotions, etc. so it is on the record in writing. If there were other witnesses, have them independently record their own impressions, thoughts, etc. Include in this exercise any drawings, sketches, or diagrams. Make sure you date and sign your documentation.

Seja persistente e não contraditório. Volte ao local da cena e registe o mesmo local. Se foi bem sucedido uma vez, pode ser que nessa região ocorram avistamentos de UFOs/naves com regularidade, talvez por razões específicas desconhecidas, e talvez possa ser novamente bem sucedido. Pode também desejar voltar ao mesmo lugar a horas diferentes do dia (durante as horas de luz)para ter uma orientação e referência melhor. Filme apenas um ,inuto ou dois em circunstâncias “normais” para ter um termo de comparação. Escreva tudo o que viu imediatamente após o acontecimento. Logo após ter feito o registo da experiência/acontecimento, escreva imediatamente as impressões, memórias, pensamentos, emoções, etc para que fiquem registadas por escrito. Se houver outras testemunhas, peça-lhes para registar independentemente as suas próprias impressões, pensamentos, etc. Inclua quaisquer desenhos, esbolos, diagramas. Certifique-se que data e assina o seu documento/testemunho.

Always be prepared. Have a digital camera or better yet a video camera with you, charged and ready to go, at all times. Make sure you know how to use your camera (and your cell phone video/photo camera) quickly and properly. These events can occur suddenly, unexpectedly, and often quite randomly, so you will need to be prepared.

Esteja sempre preparado, Tenha sempre uma camera digital, melhor ainda, uma camera vídeo consigo, carregada e pronta a usar sempre que necessário. Certifique-se que sabe como lidar com a sua camera (ou com o seu celular/camera fotográfica) rápida e adequadamente. Esses acontecimentos podem acontecer súbita e inesperadamente e, por vezes, acidentalmente, por isso, necessita estar preparado.

Look up. Be prepared. Report. Share.

Olhe para cima, Esteja preparado, Relate, Partilhe.



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