From: Scott Sincoff, ENN
Published July 29, 2012 07:24 PM

Study Reveals Caffeinated Waters off the Oregon Coast

Researchers along the Pacific coastline say that the water has elevated levels of caffeine in the ocean. According to a new study out of Portland State University, researchers tested multiple sites on the Oregon shores of the Pacific Ocean to study caffeine pollution in the waters close to the shoreline.

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The lead scientists, Zoe Rodriguez del Rey and Elise Granek, collected over twenty samples along the ocean and adjacent bodies of water; they then brought them back to their lab for further analysis. The samples collected along the shores of the Beaver State were from as north as Astoria, Ore. south to the border with California. The locations, by way of the samples, were classified as potentially polluted as they were situated near wastewater treatment plants, rivers or streams emptying into the Pacific, or densely populated areas.

Rodriguez del Rey and Granek's research find that two locations with high caffeine levels were Cape Lookout and Carl Washburne State Park in Florence, Ore. Although these two locations came back as potentially polluted, they are not near any potential pollution sources. Levels were also found after a late season rain and wind storm brought debris and triggered sewage overflows. In addition, there were low levels of caffeine in heavily populated areas, such as: Astoria, Coos Bay and Warrenton.

The team's results also state that the wastewater treatment facilities along the Oregon coast were effective in removing caffeine from the water, but heavy rains and sewer overflows brought the contaminants to the shore. The study also suggests that septic tanks are not as effective at removing caffeine from the waterways along the coastlines. Rodriguez del Rey and Granek's study also suggests that caffeine being present in the water which could potentially signal additional anthropogenic pollution, from but are not limited to: pesticides, pharmaceuticals and other contaminants.

"Our study findings indicate that, contrary to our prediction, the waste water treatment plants are not a major source of caffeine to coastal waters," says Granek. "However, onsite waste disposal systems may be a big contributor of contaminants to Oregon's coastal ocean and need to be better studied to fully understand their contribution to pollution of ocean waters."

The study was published in the July 2012 edition of Marine Pollution Bulletin, "Occurrence and concentration of caffeine in Oregon coastal waters."

For more information, please visit: http://phys.org/news/2012-07-caffeinated-oregon-coast.html

Image Credit: Coastline via Shutterstock

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