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Most streams that flow near cities and towns are laced with drugs that escape from sewage treatment plants or pharmaceutical factories. Although often occurring at concentrations of a few parts per trillion, these compounds can nevertheless hurt aquatic life, turning male fish into female fish with hormones or giving them the munchies with anti-anxiety medication. Now comes the first study that shows an effect of drugs on the base of the food web — the nutritious microbial slime that covers the streambed. Experts caution, however, that the work is preliminary.
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