The Surprising Side Effect of Anti-Anxiety Medication — on Salmon

In a study out of Sweden’s Umeå University, researchers show oxazepam — a pharmaceutical prescribed to humans for the treatment of anxiety, alcohol withdrawal, and insomnia — affects the downstream migratory behaviour of Atlantic salmon. Exposing fish to anti-anxiety medication isn’t something that only happens in scientific studies: when humans excrete drugs, some can end up in wastewater effluent and subsequently in sensitive habitats where salmon may get an unintended dose. The researchers found that when fish ingest oxazepam, it makes them migrate faster and farther — potentially recklessly so. Leaving the freshwater nursery and heading out to sea is part of the salmon lifecycle, but landing in the big blue too soon can be risky. Fish may find ocean conditions unfavourable — too cold, too dangerous, or lacking food, for example. Read the story here 14:19

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