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Traces of Oxycodone were found in bay mussels like these used to monitor pollution levels in Seattle's Puget Sound. brewbooks / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

A surprising finding from the waters of Seattle's Puget Sound reveals that the opioid epidemic devastating human communities in the U.S. could be harming marine life as well.

Every two years, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) transplants bay mussels raised in clean waters in Whidbey Island, WA to locations around Puget Sound in order to monitor pollution levels in the water. Since mussels are filter feeders, area scientists can get a good idea of what contaminants are present in the environment by examining which have built up in the mussels' tissue after two to three months of exposure.

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