Oregon Coffee Habit Leaves Fish Swimming in Ocean of Caffeinated Waste. Literally.
The espresso-soaked streets of Oregon’s cities are often hailed as a mecca for coffee fanatics, where the plaid-clad residents enjoy everything from Starbucks lattes to locally brewed artisan coffees. But Oregon’s caffeine addiction has created an entirely new category of unwillingly caffeinated residents — the marine wildlife off of the Oregon coastline.
Scientists studying water pollution have discovered elevated levels of caffeine in the Pacific Ocean around the Oregon coast, thanks to water-disposal systems that flush the wastewater from Oregon’s cities into the ocean. Researchers used caffeine levels as a benchmark of pollution because caffeine is both artificially manufactured and easy to track, making it the perfect way to measure human impact on offshore environments.
Though the existence of a caffeine sea might be a dream come true for human coffee lovers who would jump at the chance to marinate in their favorite beverage, scientists interviewed by National Geographic aren’t too sure about the effects that the caffeine could have on the animals living in what hydrologist Dana Kolpin calls “a soup of low-level contaminants.”
Points to Kolpin for finding the nicest euphemism for “thousands of gallons of caffeinated urine,” but it still looks like Oregon’s residents should reevaluate their latte consumption and water treatment methods before a sea of pissed-off fish start demanding a line of underwater Starbucks.
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