A new study conducted by Portland State University (PSU) researchers, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality found that native oysters in Oregon’s Netarts and Coos bays contain a “cocktail of pharmaceuticals,” carcinogenic compounds, and chemicals, which include pain relievers, antibiotics, mercury, and pesticides. Yum.
These bays are protected and harvesting the native oysters is illegal because of a project to restore the species. Though the “individual concentrations of chemicals” found in the oysters are below what state health officials deem to be safe, the ecological effects and potential human risks are unknown, reports Oregon Live.
Elise Granek, an associate professor of environmental sciences at PSU, said in a statement, “In addition to potential human health risks, the pollutants may affect the growth and reproduction of the oysters themselves,” which could have “widespread repercussions since oysters play important ecological roles of filtering water and providing habitat for other estuarine and marine species like juvenile salmon.”
The state does not seem too concerned about these findings. A joint statement from the state health authority, DEQ, ODFW and Oregon Department of Agriculture said that they “appreciate the work” the researchers did to “document the low concentrations of environmental contaminants,” in the native coastal species.
Granek wants to further examine whether eating contaminated seafood could lead to “measurable levels of the same contaminants in the human bloodstream,” and has applied for more grant money for this effort.
Click here to read about how one toxin put a hold to the dungeness crab fishing season for months.