According to a recent study, the caffeine we urinate may have a negative effect on the environment. Studies have shown that animals exposed to caffeine are more stressed and often end up with a mutated DNA because of the caffeine. Most of the caffeine we consume is eliminated from our body through urine, which will eventually end up in the environment.
Past studies have shown that the caffeine we urinate ends up in the urban sewage system, but according to newest research, it also gets to the rural waterways. A team of San Francisco experts recently investigated 100 water samples from San Diego and Orange Country, mostly from raw sewage and seawater from urban and unpopulated areas. The results were shocking – the urban area water samples had up to 8.5 mg. of caffeine per liter of water, and even the open space water samples showed contamination, although in smaller amounts. This seems to confirm what scientists have been saying in the last few years – that the caffeine we drink and urinate later has unforeseen consequences on the environment.
Carey Nagoda, one of the scientists involved in the research, says that the team immediately saw that the contamination is spread to more than just sewer lines or septic systems. Even water from the open areas that are generally unpopulated by humans contained traces of caffeine, which is concerning. This is mostly due to the harmful habits of humans who go fishing, riding, hiking or camping – they often urinate or defecate close to the water, which exposes the water to the pathogens and compounds in the urine.
“In urban areas, the causes of increased presence of caffeine in water are usually leaky sewer lines, trash, septic systems and recycled water that is used for irrigation. However, the appearance of caffeine in open-area water is certainly concerning, and should be investigated further,” the team wrote in the report.
Past studies have identified caffeine leaking in US waterways
According to a 2012 study, traces of caffeine were found on beaches near coastal streams and urban areas near Oregon. The highest concentration of caffeine was found in remote coastal areas (.045 mg. per liter), and the results of the study were made public.
Another study showed that some near-shore mussels have a bit of caffeine in their system. The special of clams produced proteins that were supposed to protect the DNA from mutation, but due to higher caffeine exposure, the process stopped. The study revealed that the animals were at high risk of DNA mutation and the development of life-threatening diseases.
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