A team of scientists, led by researchers at Monash University, has analysed insects and riparian spiders found in six Melbourne streams for traces of 98 different types of pharmaceuticals.
The research, published in Nature Communications on Wednesday, detected 69 different types of pharmaceuticals in insects and 66 types in spiders. It suggests the pharmaceuticals were transferred to spiders after they consumed insects.
The scientists then estimated what the potential exposure could be for the main species that feed on invertebrates in those streams: platypus and brown trout.
“There’s many studies that exist that tell us that pharmaceuticals are in the water,” said the study’s lead author, Erinn Richmond. “What we didn’t know is are these pharmaceuticals moving through aquatic food webs?