Researchers say antidepressants could have fatal impact on Great Lakes fish

Sep 11, 2017

Researchers say antidepressant drugs found in a variety of fish species in the Niagara river could be detrimental to biodiversity.

The study, from the University of Buffalo, found that fish were ingesting trace amounts of various antidepressant medications through smaller organisms and through their gills.

Randolph Singh is a co-author on the study. He said the drugs won’t harm humans, but can be catastrophic to fish.

“It can affect their mating behavior, it can affect their fight or flight response to different predators, so we can say that this can affect the fish and in the long run maybe the fish population will drop. That’s why we say it’s a biodiversity problem.”

Singh said researchers tested a variety of species in the the Niagara river.

“Across the board for all the fish we found different kinds of antidepressants. I would say that every kind of fish is susceptible to acquiring these antidepressants or pollutants from the water.”

Exposure to the antidepressants was found to be highest near cities and wastewater treatment plants.

“But then water moves then fish that live farther away can be exposed too, not to the same extent as the local fish but then they are still also getting exposed because of water movement.”

Study authors are working with waste water treatment managers to see if there’s a way to reduce the amount of antidepressants making it to the water.