Why do we care about antidepressants in the environment?

When you take an aspirin, drink a 5-Hour Energy, or wash your hair with shampoo, you inevitably release potentially toxic substances into the environment. Toxic substances?

Yes! We release consumed drugs whether or not they are metabolized, down to the wastewater treatment plant and into the environment. The same holds for the perfumes that permeate our shampoo, body wash, deodorants, and colognes. All of these chemicals find their way into aquatic organisms and can cause changes in their behavior and physiology.

This summer we are investigating how exposure to antidepressants affects two critical behaviors in marine snails: crawling velocity and time to reach the air-water interface. We hypothesize that disruption of crawling is a prelude to foot detachment previously described. Both of these induced behaviors are sub-lethal, but could become lethal if snails are inhibited from reaching favorable habitats.

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