Caffeine and our Coast

Before your next caffeine fix…

First it was reports of birth control in the water. Then came reports of a veritable salad of contaminants including antibiotics, mood stabilizers, sex hormones and now… caffeine?

A study done by hydrologists and marine biologists at Portland State University found that the coastal waters of Oregon, especially where state parks are found, have high levels of caffeine.

caffeine-found-in-sea-water-oregon, articles.waterdesalinationplants.comThe results of elevated caffeine levels on marine life and the extent of the effects are still unknown, but early studies showed that the high doses of caffeine were stressing out local mussel colonies.

It is no coincidence that the caffeinated waters are found right off the heart of coffee country, but what was surprising was the fact that the elevated caffeine levels were not found in densely populated areas or near cities, rather it accumulated in the wilder offshore waters.

So what is the source of all this caffeine? After extensive testing and research it was concluded that the most likely sources were sewer overflows and septic systems. Turns out, the caffeine is just one of the byproducts of our nation’s own caffeine dependence.

At the outset of the study, researchers suspected that wastewater treatment plants would be a major source of the caffeine pollution. By the study’s conclusion it was accepted that the source of the elevated levels was on-site waste disposal systems.

The findings don’t end there. The elevated levels of caffeine were also a signal that human-caused pollution like pesticides and pharmaceuticals were more than likely present as well.  The full results of the study were published in the July 2012 issue of “Marine Pollution Bulletin.”

While these drugs and other contaminants seep into our water from animals and humans alike there is hope. With the right combination of water filter these and other contaminants can easily be filtered out of drinking water. But the fact that our oceans and seas are becoming contaminated with our- ahem- byproducts should not go unnoticed.

If anything this and other reports should be used as cautionary tools. While suggesting that America curb its substantial caffeine habit may be too big of a mountain to climb right now, there are small but effective changes that sampling areas from Oregon, North Coast. caffeinated coast, articles.waterdesalinationplants.comcould be made.

For example, coming back to all the pharmaceuticals in the drinking water supply, it is standard practice for employees of facilities to flush excess, expired or unnecessary prescriptions down the drain to avoid misuse. Though their intentions may be good, it becomes easier to understand why there are so many pharmaceuticals tainting out drinking water supplies.


Water Desalination Plants guest author today is Simone who is the staff writer at Quench, specializing in the greensphere and water-news. Quench is the largest provider of bottleless water coolers in North America, offering a greener, more cost-effective and much healthier alternative to the 5 gallon water dispenser. Simone loves seeing live music, being outdoors and enjoying a nice cold glass of filtered water.

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