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In addition to antidepressants, fish accumulate antibiotics and sunscreen components that are causing serious effects on their plasma, brain and liver, as researchers from the University of the Basque Country (UPV / EHU) have detected. Given the growing presence of drug residues and personal care products in aquatic ecosystems, great efforts are being made to identify and control this type of pollutants and by-products in sewage drains and in environmental surface waters. The biggest challenge now is to assess its impact on biota.
In this context, researchers from the Department of Analytical Chemistry at the University of the Basque Country have developed analytical methods to measure the content of antidepressants, antibiotics and ultraviolet filters in water and fish. They have also analyzed the accumulation of these pollutants in fish tissues and fluids, their transformation and the effects they have at the molecular level.
Through environmental biomonitoring, the risk of accumulation of these substances in fish and other aquatic organisms had already been tested, but the way in which drugs, products and products accumulate, distribute, metabolize and eliminate drugs has not been thoroughly investigated. personal care in the tissues and biological secretions of these organisms.
“The lack of knowledge about the transformation and biodegradation of drugs and personal care products can lead to underestimating the true effects of fish exposure to these pollutants,” explains UPV / EHU researcher Haizea Ziarrusta Intxaurtza. “These by-products (those derived from transformations and metabolites) can be as much or more dangerous than their precursors.”
Ziarrusta and other authors, who publish their study in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, have detected that the antidepressant amitriptyline, the antibiotic ciprofloxacin and the ultraviolet filter oxybenzone produce side effects in the plasma, brain and liver of fish, because they interfere in your metabolism. His experiments have been carried out with a group of gilthead sea breams at the Plentzia Marine Station. The researcher indicates that there is a lot of work to do: “The concentration of this type of pollutants is worrying, because the consumption is increasing and in the sewage plants we are not able to eliminate them, they reach the fish and they are changing their metabolism. We do not know to what extent this will influence at the individual level, and the problem could reach population levels. As we pollute the sea, the situation worsens, and it is necessary to know if there is a risk that the contaminants that accumulate the fish reach the humans”.