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New research has found low levels of various medicines — antibiotics, antihistamines, and pain relievers — as well as carcinogenic chemicals and mercury in oysters that grow in two Oregon bays.

The findings do not suggest any immediate risk to human health, but one study author said more analysis is needed to determine the extent to which such contaminants might affect the oyster population and, by extension, a need for better wastewater treatment.


“If you’re allergic to one of these medicines, we’re not sure how many oysters you would have to eat to have a reaction,” said Elise Granek, an associate professor of environmental science and management at Portland State University, who is one of the coauthors of the study, which was recently published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

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