Pacific waters off coast of Oregon full of caffeine

Posted Jul 31, 2012 by Abigail Prendergast
The waters off of the coast of Oregon have reported slight amounts of caffeine in them due to heavy rains, overflowing sewage and septic systems. Oregon is said to need to remedy this problem before it begins to threaten marine life.
Oregon coast from the giftshop on Cape Foulweather
Oregon coast from the giftshop on Cape Foulweather
Mat Elmore
A different kind of pollution is plaguing the Pacific northwest waters in the wake of heavy rain. Researchers from the University of Portland discovered that both fresh- and marine-water bodies in the state of Oregon have slight levels of caffeine in them, due to apparent sewer overflows and septic systems.
According to Blue Living Ideas, while caffeine is generated by a variety of plants, such as coffee, tea and soda plants, none of those grow in the northwestern portion of the United States.
What was surprising to researchers, however, was that there were not higher concentrations of caffeine in more urban, populated areas. Marine life can breathe an aquatic sigh of relief though, as the highest amount of caffeine found in the sea was 44.7 nanograms per liter. Intertidal mussels started exhibiting stress at 50 ng/l. Even so, despite being far too low to be lethal, it is not a good indicator of things to come. 152.2 nanograms per liter were reported to be found in rivers and estuaries that drain into the ocean.
The researchers said the following in their report:
"The study found high caffeine levels near Carl Washburne State Park (Florence, Ore.) and Cape Lookout, two areas not near the potential pollution sources, yet low levels of caffeine near large population centers like Astoria/Warrenton and Coos Bay.
High levels were also found following a late-season storm of wind and rain that triggered sewer overflows."
According to Seattle Pi's blog, Oregon is indeed to blame, but it's not the only state at fault; several other studies have reported higher caffeine contents in ocean water, such as "the North Sea, the Mediterranean Boston Harbor, Sarasota Bay in Florida and Puget Sound."