By Nate Seltenrich

“If you went to the doctor and told them you were taking 69 different pharmaceuticals,” says Emma Rosi of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, “they would be very concerned with your well-being.” When a study she co-authored detected that number of pharmaceutical compounds in caddisfly larvae along an Australian creek downstream of a treatment plant, it was further evidence that excreted drugs are escaping wastewater facilities and entering food webs. The Bay is no exception. A survey conducted by the San Francisco Estuary Institute found that seventeen commonly used drugs, including antibiotics, antidepressants, and over-the-counter painkillers, could exceed protective thresholds for marine life. “We want to be vigilant in monitoring these contaminants,” says Diana Lin of SFEI.

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Medicating the Bay

By Nate Seltenrich

“If you went to the doctor and told them you were taking 69 different pharmaceuticals,” says Emma Rosi of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, “they would be very concerned with your well-being.” When a study she co-authored detected that number of pharmaceutical compounds in caddisfly larvae along an Australian creek downstream of a treatment plant, it was further evidence that excreted drugs are escaping wastewater facilities and entering food webs. The Bay is no exception. A survey conducted by the San Francisco Estuary Institute found that seventeen commonly used drugs, including antibiotics, antidepressants, and over-the-counter painkillers, could exceed protective thresholds for marine life. “We want to be vigilant in monitoring these contaminants,” says Diana Lin of SFEI.

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About the author

Nate Seltenrich is a freelance science and environmental journalist who covers infrastructure, restoration, and related topics for Estuary. He also contributes to the San Francisco Chronicle, Sonoma and Marin magazines, the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, and other local and national publications, on subjects ranging from public lands and renewable energy to the human health impacts of climate change. He lives in Petaluma with his wife, two boys, and four ducks. www.nate-reports.com