Christine Dell’Amore writes on National Geographic News:
How’s this for a sweet surprise? A team of researchers in Washington State has found traces of cooking spices and flavorings in the waters of Puget Sound. University of Washington associate professor Richard Keil heads the Sound Citizen program, which investigates how what we do on land affects our waters.
Keil and his team have tracked “pulses” of food ingredients that enter the sound during certain holidays.
For instance, thyme and sage spike during Thanksgiving, cinnamon surges all winter, chocolate and vanilla show up during weekends (presumably from party-related goodies), and waffle-cone and caramel-corn remnants skyrocket around the Fourth of July. The Puget Sound study is one of several ongoing efforts to investigate the unexpected ingredients that find their way into the global water supply.
Around the world, scientists are finding trace amounts of substances — from sugar and spice to heroine, rocket fuel, and birth control — that might be having unintended consequences for humans and wildlife alike.
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