A toxic shellfish and its shell-loving cousins are turning up in people’s food and drinking water, according to a study.
Scientists at the University of Washington in Seattle looked at how much of the toxin-laden eggs of snails and other turtles in the Pacific Northwest were made by human activity.
They found a significant percentage of the shells were made with human waste.
“The amount of shell-making activity in the region is much more widespread than we thought,” lead researcher Michael Johnson said in a statement.
The shell-makers typically dump their waste into a landfill, which is essentially a huge hole that contains tons of garbage, Johnson said.
“Our results show that shell-building activity is much higher in the Washington area than previously thought, and in the Puget Sound region, where there is a much higher percentage of shell and plastic pollution,” Johnson said, according, The Washington Post.
Scientists found that about 70 percent of the toxins in the turtles’ eggs came from the same source.
The study was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
The University of California, Berkeley, has also studied the health effects of shellfish eating.
The Berkeley lab found that eating shellfish increases your risk of cancer and other diseases.
Johnson and colleagues at the UW and Berkeley found the toxins were concentrated in water and soil near human waste sites.
The chemicals are toxic to animals and humans, and cause respiratory problems and immune system disorders.
They also found a variety of other harmful effects.
“These are the kinds of compounds that cause skin irritation, which can lead to skin cancer, which has an increased risk of developing allergies and asthma,” Johnson told The Washington Times.