A starling

Are antidepressants, painkillers and contraceptive pills damaging British wildlife?

Claim made by: Reporter John Naish
Location: The Daily Mail
Spotted on: 2014-10-27

Are antidepressants, painkillers and contraceptive pills damaging British wildlife?

Update 2014-11-18

The Daily Mail ran this article on the 27th November:


Various studies are mentioned in the piece to support the claim that many species of British wildlife are now "creatures whose brains and bodies are being sent haywire by the torrents of antidepressants, contraceptive pills and painkillers that we flush with our urine into the waterways every year."

These are:

- Dr Kathryn Arnold, an ecologist from the University of York, carried out a study of the effects of Prozac f starlings, broadcast on the BBC series 'Autumn Watch'. Not written if this is illustration of a study Dr Arnold has published.

- A study of Prozac on crayfish is mentioned, but not named.

- The results of a study of Prozac on cuttlefish, published in the journal Aquatic Toxicology, are reported to show the creatures displaying riskier behavior when exposed and less able to display skin camouflage.

- The results of a study on perch, published in the journal Science, by scientists at Umeå University in Sweden, are reported. The study showed that concentrations of the anti anxiety oxazepam caused perch to become less sociable, more adventurous and eat more.

- The results of an unnamed study exposing minnows to the antidepressant Zoloft are reported, showing they are less likely to hide from predators.

- A study of Dr Alex Ford, a marine biologist at Portsmouth University, is mentioned, which observed the effects of Prozac-type drugs on prawns and shrimps. The study showed that creatures exposed to the drugs were more likely to swim towards light and therefore more exposed to predators.

- The results of an unnamed study from 2004 is mentioned in the context of the contraceptive pill that found "a third of male fish in English rivers had developed female characteristics".

- "Newly- hatched birds exposed to the synthetic female hormones in the Pill grow more slowly and have weak immune systems, according to a study in the Journal Of Applied Ecology."

- "An ongoing study of otters in British rivers indicates that two commonly used nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (or NSAIDs)— diclofenac and ibuprofen — are causing severe liver damage to the mammals ... The creatures were collected from six counties in England as part of an otter-health monitoring project at the Wildlife Veterinary Investigation Centre in Chacewater, Cornwall"



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