Posted on: May 31, 2016 at 12:58 pm
Last updated: October 15, 2020 at 3:45 pm

At this point in modern society, when our food is regularly pumped full of antibiotics and hormones, it’s no surprise to find fish with drugs inside of them. However, the type of drugs that were found in wild salmon caught near Seattle may be enough to surprise you.


According to a 2016 paper published in the international journal Environmental Pollution, salmon caught in the United States, near Seattle, contained traces of over 81 different types of drugs, including many illegal narcotics, stimulants and other classes of drugs.

Some of the more significant drugs found in the tissue of these salmon included cocaine, antidepressants, OxyContin, nicotine as well as caffeine, Tylenol and Valium. Researchers believe that this accumulation of drugs in the salmon is a result of personal waste being thrown into the water.


This is not the first time that salmon was found to contain traces of unpleasant and possibly harmful substances. In 2004, it was discovered that Atlantic salmon farmed in Scotland had the highest levels of cancer-causing chemicals in the world.

Sliced up whole salmon

Salmon products were also recalled from supermarkets in 2008 due to concerns that they were contaminated with diesel. Experts believed that this diesel contamination was caused by the vehicle transporting the salmon to a processing plant.

Despite this not being the first time that wild-caught salmon were found with drugs in them, according to lead study author Jim Meador, researchers were surprised to find such a high amount of them.

“The concentrations in effluent (an outflowing of water) were higher than we expected. We analyzed samples for 150 compounds and we had 61 percent of them detected in effluent. So we know these are going into the estuaries,” Meador says.


Although Meador doesn’t believe that fish contaminated with these drugs pose a threat to human health, he still believes that there should be some concern in response to this information.

“You have to wonder what it is doing to the fish,” he says.

Salmon caught near seattle overloaded with antidepressants, cocaine and more
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