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Researchers find 64 new chemicals in Puget Sound

TACOMA, Wash. — New research shows pollutants never before seen in Puget Sound are turning up in the local waterway, having an unknown impact on aquatic creatures and plant life.

A recent study from the University of Washington found 64 chemicals never seen in the Sound. At least eight of the chemicals were found at “concerning levels,” researchers said. They include:

  • Two vehicle-related contaminants that are found in tires and other sources
  • The antidepressant drug Venlafaxine
  • Two herbicides, including an aquatic one used for controlling weeds and algae
  • Two chemicals found in plastics
  • A persistent, well-studied chemical called PFOS, which is known to be harmful to humans and animals

Researchers collected samples from 18 spots around Puget Sound. The mass of each compound was used to find its chemical components.

The chemicals included, “pesticides, herbicides, food additives and pharmaceuticals – antidepressants and blood pressure medications,” researchers said in a release.

Researchers told Q13 News persistent chemicals can impact microscopic life the most, harming the bottom rung of the food chain.

Scientists hope to use the data to see how the chemicals impact near-shore life, like salmon and oysters – and help mitigate further pollution.

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