Thanksgiving for Fish: Food Chemicals Go Through People & Back Into Water Supply

By Brett Israel | November 13, 2009 1:06 pm

puget-sound--webPulses of certain Turkey Day food ingredients are detected in the water supply in the days after the holiday, according to researchers. But as reported in National Geographic News, it doesn’t stop there:

For instance, thyme and sage spike during Thanksgiving, cinnamon surges all winter, chocolate and vanilla show up during weekends (presumably from party-related goodies), and waffle-cone and caramel-corn remnants skyrocket around the Fourth of July.

A research team from the University of Washington tracked pulses of food ingredients that enter Washington’s Puget sound to learn more about how our actions on land affect the water supply, and to determine what slips through sewage treatment plants. Similar monitoring is underway worldwide, and scientists have turned up things such as flu vaccines, cocaine, heroine, rocket fuel, and birth control in waterways.

Click on over to team leader Rick Keil’s lab Web site to learn more about the Puget Sound research. But Keil told National Geographic News that the no one knows yet whether the subtle seasoning of the water is having an impact.

For now, there’s no evidence that a sweeter and spicier sound is a bad thing—salmon, which can smell such flavors, could be enjoying their vanilla-enhanced habitat, Keil said.

Related Content:
Discoblog: Fun in the Sand Now Hindered by Fecal Bacteria
Discoblog: Vatican Science: Pope Blames Male Infertility on…the Pill
80beats: Duck Flu Defense? Tamiflu From Urine Builds Up Downstream

Image: flickr / Lana_aka_BADGIRL

MORE ABOUT: holidays, water

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


Quirky, funny, and surprising science news from the edge of the known universe.

See More

Collapse bottom bar