London: Rising levels of anti-depressants in sea water could upset the vital food chain.
Shrimps exposed to the anti-depressant fluoxetine dramatically alter their behaviour by reducing the chances of their survival, the Aquatic Toxicology journal reported, quoting new research.
"Crustaceans are crucial to the food chain and if shrimps` natural behaviour is being changed because of anti-depressant levels in the sea this could seriously upset the natural balance of the ecosystem," said Alex Ford from the University of Portsmouth`s Institute of Marine Sciences, who led the study.
The study found that the shrimps` behaviour changes when they are exposed to the same levels of fluoxetine found in the waste water that flows into rivers and estuaries as a result of the drugs humans excrete in sewage.
The affected shrimps are five times more likely to swim toward the light instead of away from it and risk being eaten by fish or birds, this upsetting the food chain, a university release said.
"Much of what humans consume you can detect in the water in some concentration. We`re a nation of coffee drinkers and there is a huge amount of caffeine found in waste water, for example," said Ford.
"It`s no surprise that what we get from the pharmacy will also be contaminating the country`s waterways," he added.