Study finds 'caffeinated' Oregon coast waters

Jul 19, 2012 By David Santen
Sampling areas from Oregon, North Coast

(Phys.org) -- A new study finds elevated levels of caffeine at several sites in Pacific Ocean waters off the coast of Oregon—though not necessarily where researchers expected.

This study is the first to look at caffeine pollution off the Oregon coast. It was developed and conducted by Portland State University master’s student Zoe Rodriguez del Rey and her faculty adviser Elise Granek, assistant professor of Environmental Science and Management, in collaboration with Steve Sylvester of Washington State University, Vancouver.

In spring 2010, Rodriguez del Rey and Granek collected and analyzed samples from 14 coastal locations and seven adjacent water bodies as far north as Astoria, Ore., and as far south as Brookings.

Locations were identified as potentially polluted if they were near wastewater treatment plants, large population centers or rivers and streams emptying into the ocean.

Sampling areas from Oregon, South Coast

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.

Results of the study were published in the July 2012 Marine Pollution Bulletin, “Occurrence and concentration of caffeine in Oregon coastal waters.” 

The results seem to indicate that wastewater treatment plants are effective at removing caffeine, but that high rainfall and combined sewer overflows flush the contaminants out to sea. The results also suggest that septic tanks, such as those used at the state parks, may be less effective at containing pollution. 

“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.”

Caffeine is found in many food and beverage products as well as some pharmaceuticals, and caffeine pollution is directly related to human activity (although many plant species produce caffeine, there are no natural sources of the substance in the Northwest). The presence of caffeine may also signal additional anthropogenic pollution, such as pesticides, pharmaceuticals and other contaminants. 

Even “elevated levels” of caffeine are measured in nanograms per liter, well below a lethal dose for marine life. However, an earlier study by Rodriguez del Rey and Granek on intertidal mussels showed that caffeine at the levels measured in this current study can still have an effect despite the lower doses

“We humans drink caffeinated beverages because caffeine has a biological effect on us—so it isn’t too surprising that caffeine affects other animals, too,” says Granek. Previous studies have found caffeine in other bodies of water around the world, including the North Sea, the Mediterranean, Puget Sound, Boston Harbor, and Sarasota Bay, Fla.

The project was funded in part by an Oregon Sea Grant Program Development Grant and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Granek has submitted a grant to further study septic tanks in coastal areas, which could help identify the extent to which these systems are sources of contamination to Oregon’s marine waters.

Explore further: Nickel extraction pilot seeks best waste purification

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Chemistry professor links feces and caffeine

Nov 22, 2011

Researchers led by Prof. Sébastien Sauvé of the University of Montreal's Department of Chemistry have discovered that traces of caffeine are a useful indicator of the contamination of our water by sewers. "E co ...

That caffeine in your drink -- is it really 'natural?'

Mar 07, 2012

That caffeine in your tea, energy drink or other beverage — is it really natural? Scientists are reporting successful use for the first time of a simpler and faster method for answering that question. ...

Caffeine promotes drink flavor preference in adolescents

Jul 12, 2011

Research to be presented at the upcoming annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), the foremost society for research into all aspects of eating and drinking behavior, indicates that caffeine ...

Caffeine powder is recalled

May 21, 2007

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Spectrum Laboratory Products Inc. is recalling its Caffeine Citrated Powder due to potential potency issues.

Recommended for you

'Shocking' underground water loss in US drought

Jul 24, 2014

A major drought across the western United States has sapped underground water resources, posing a greater threat to the water supply than previously understood, scientists said Thursday.

User comments : 28

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

tadchem
3 / 5 (2) Jul 19, 2012
"onsite waste disposal systems may be a big contributor of contaminants to Oregons coastal ocean and need to be better studied to fully understand their contribution to pollution of ocean waters"
This suggests a study is needed to identify unequivocally the exact sources of the caffeine pollution in the State Park areas. Known point sources (septic tanks and such) should be analyzed to identify the persistent pollutants they contain, and the coastal waters shoud be resampled to identify the concentration profiles of the caffeine and the other pollutants to establish whether the pollution is coming from the septic tanks or not.
NotParker
1.8 / 5 (15) Jul 19, 2012
Coffee is natural and renewable.

"Ilex vomitoria" is a type of holly, contains caffeine and grows in the USA.

http://en.wikiped...omitoria

I don't know if it grows in Oregon.
Estevan57
2.6 / 5 (36) Jul 20, 2012
Ilex vomitoria is not known to grow in Oregon.
Lead is also natural. So is raw sewage. Location location location.
aironeous
4.7 / 5 (3) Jul 20, 2012
And they still kick us metal detectorists out as low hanging fruit because of our easy get along attitude we are unlikely to fight yet we are saving the tax payers money every year by recovering, cleaning and placing back into circulation coins that would otherwise be left to chemically rot (modern coins not the older silver and gold ones) and we take out a lot of metal trash from the ground (mostly aluminum). The pennies and nickels cost more for the US mint to make than their face value yet the US mint completely ignores our hobby on their website. The hobby does no more damage than the kids running around in the grass with cleats playing sports. You cut a plug and flip it over, recover your coin with a pin pointer and flip the plug back over and tamp it down, you can't even tell we are there.
NotParker
2.5 / 5 (11) Jul 20, 2012
Greenies ....

"EUGENE, Ore. Coffee grounds can be an excellent addition to a compost pile. The grounds are relatively rich in nitrogen, providing bacteria the energy they need to turn organic matter into compost.

About 2 percent nitrogen by volume, used coffee grounds can be a safe substitute for nitrogen-rich manure in the compost pile, explained Cindy Wise, coordinator of the compost specialist program at the Lane County office of the Oregon State University Extension Service."

Since 2001, Wise has trained and coordinated OSU compost specialist volunteers. They have collected and composted nearly 200 tons of coffee grounds from 13 coffee shops and kiosks in Eugene, Springfield, Florence, Cottage Grove and Veneta. That's the equivalent of about 25 large dump trucks full of coffee grounds.

http://extension....ode/1009
Estevan57
2.2 / 5 (30) Jul 20, 2012
"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."

Eugene, Springfield, Florence, Cottage Grove and Veneta are all 75 - 100 miles from the ocean and the rivers that are near them enter the ocean at sites that have low levels of caffeine. There is a mountan range between them and the coast sites where caffene levels are elevated.

So if a Republican conservative Tea Party member grandmother throws her coffee grounds in her garden, like thousands (millions?) of other people, does that make her a "greenie"?

If she puts them in a vegetable matter recycle bin collected by the city or waste management company does that make her a "greenie".?
Is it the grounds or the recycling?
NotParker
1.9 / 5 (14) Jul 21, 2012
Florence is on the coast 13 miles south of Carl Washburne State Park.

Florence is located on the Oregon Coast at the mouth of the Siuslaw River

Estevan57, I hope no one believes anything you say.

Estevan57
2.3 / 5 (31) Jul 21, 2012
OOps I missed one. And I was there a week ago. Make the most of it. The others are still valid.

So if the grounds are recycled in Florence how does the caffeine get to the sea? Garden flooding? Elvish mischief?
The point is still that recycled "greenie" coffee grounds are not a factor in sea caffeine levels.
Unless you have some data or information otherwise. Put up or ...
I really don't care what you hope, for you are hopeless.
NotParker
2.1 / 5 (11) Jul 21, 2012
So if the grounds are recycled in Florence how does the caffeine get to the sea? Garden flooding?


Ir rains. The runoff end up in the ocean or the river that runs through the middle of the city.

"Florence is the only major urban center in the Siuslaw Watershed. Its entire UGB drains primarily to the Siuslaw estuary or the Pacific Ocean. Rapid infiltration rates into the sand cover, combined with a shallow water table, make the North Florence Sole Source Dunal Aquifer, and the hydrologically-connected wetlands, riparian, and estuarine system, highly susceptible to contamination from surface activity. "

http://www.siusla...tems_11/

But go ahead E57 ... continue to beclown yourself.
Estevan57
2.3 / 5 (31) Jul 21, 2012
"Caffeine occurrence and concentrations in seawater did not correspond with pollution threats from population density and point and non-point sources, but did correspond with storm event occurrence." - From the abstract.

"Ir rains. The runoff end up in the ocean or the river that runs through the middle of the city." - Not Parker.

"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." - From the article.

Perhaps the actual study has the right idea, that storm caused overflows allow the normally effective sewage treatment to be bypassed, and also cause onsite disposal at large low-lying campgrounds to overflow.

Unless you can show some proof of your fantastical new idea, I will go with real actual scientific study as stated above.
Have a pleasant day.
NotParker
1.9 / 5 (13) Jul 21, 2012
"storm event occurrence."

"In Florence, there is often a high seasonal water table, which results in rainwater backing up to the land surface. Stormwater runoff adds volume, velocity, and contaminants to area surface waters."

I rest my case.

You go ahead E57. Beclown yourself.
Estevan57
2.3 / 5 (31) Jul 21, 2012
And yet, until there were sewer overflows, caffeine levels were not elevated. Florence, (13 miles from Carl Washburne State Park) is not the only coastal town with a high seasonal water table.

The fact that there is a high water table is not really any proof at all of your "llex vomitoria - coffee grounds" hypothesis.

Got facts, not opinion? Why not just believe what the study finds?
Your case does need a rest. Have a pleasant day.
NotParker
1.9 / 5 (14) Jul 21, 2012
And yet, until there were sewer overflows, caffeine levels were not elevated.


How would you know since 2010 was the first time the article says they looked for caffeine.

Cape Lookout was the other location, right near Tillamook.

TILLAMOOK COUNTY TILLER:

"Coffee grounds can be an excellent addition to a
compost pile. About 2 percent nitrogen by volume,
used coffee grounds can be a safe substitute for nitrogen
-rich manure in the compost pile."

http://extension....ping.pdf

Same OSU program. Caffeinating the ocean ...

E57: Beclowning himself again and again.
Estevan57
2.3 / 5 (31) Jul 21, 2012
Read the article.
Perhaps you should provide evidence instead of more opinion.
I see from your other posts that you are being totally owned by logic and fact. Isn't that painfull? Having a bad day? Perhaps if you would not make things up and then have to support them you would get along better on this site. Have a pleasant day.
NotParker
1.9 / 5 (13) Jul 22, 2012
Ok. You gave up. I understand.

200 tons of coffee grounds from one program is not evidence to you.
encoded
5 / 5 (2) Jul 22, 2012
caffeine in the water!? maybe that explains the high employee productivity levels in the US... it was the Federal Reserve people all along!!! A whole new twist to 'stimulating the economy'!! lol.
Estevan57
2.3 / 5 (31) Jul 22, 2012
"200 tons of coffee grounds from one program is not evidence to you." - NotParker
Nice diversion. You know only a small part of that is even close to one of the sites, without a valid leaching mechanism, and then caffeine is only actually found after sewage overflows, at a site miles away. And it doesn't account for the other sites.
Simplifying information to the point of ridiculousness is a good way to change the subject without actually presenting evidence.

Without a valid mechanism described for any portion of the cafeine supposedly leached from these infamous gardens to be found offshore near previously described contributors (State Park campgrounds,) your hypothesis (crap you just made up) remains invalid.

Remember, your first post was atributing the caffeine to a shrub that only grows in the southeast part of the US.
Have a pleasant day.
NotParker
1.9 / 5 (14) Jul 22, 2012
"You know only a small part of that is even close to one of the sites"

Where did it say that.

" without a valid leaching mechanism"

Rain. Storm drains. Into the ocean. A few miles away is the site of the test. Lots of references.

The sum of your argument is ________________

Estevan57
2.3 / 5 (31) Jul 22, 2012
Without a valid mechanism described for any portion of the cafeine supposedly leached from these infamous gardens to be found offshore near previously described contributors (State Park campgrounds,) your hypothesis (crap you just made up) remains invalid.

NotParker
1.9 / 5 (13) Jul 22, 2012
Without a valid mechanism described for any portion of the cafeine supposedly leached from these infamous gardens to be found offshore near previously described contributors (State Park campgrounds,) your hypothesis (crap you just made up) remains invalid.



Aside from the river running through the cities with high water tables and it raining a lot in Oregon washing the ground and caffeine into the water table or storm sewers and those cities being a few miles away from the parks?

E57, you make me laugh.
Estevan57
2.3 / 5 (31) Jul 23, 2012
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 Oregons coastal ocean and need to be better studied to fully understand their contribution to pollution of ocean waters.

Do you really not understand this? I can believe it. Read the first post, it sums it up pretty well before you chimed in with caffeinated shrubbery and farfetched grasping for an argument.
NotParker
2 / 5 (12) Jul 23, 2012
200 tons of coffee grounds dumped on the ground in a wet environment at sea level a few miles from the areas tested and you wonder where the caffeine comes from?

Estevan57
2.2 / 5 (29) Jul 24, 2012
200 tons? how disingenuous.
Of the 5 cities and towns mulching grounds, total population of 238,401, Florence has a pop. of 8,466.
That's 3.55% of the total. Or 1,420 lb. over 11 years, a total of 129 lb. a year. What a mighty burden for our fragile earth to bear! The town has more roadkill than that. Personal guarantee.

13 miles away 2 of the busiest campgrounds in the state (which are infamous for flooding and storm surge damage) full of vault toilets and camper trailer disposals show positive caffeine measured by the scientists stated in the article. After flooding and a large storm surge.

By the way, a creek runs right through the middle of the campground. http://www.oregon..._123.php
Pssst, noone pees in the woods!

http://io9.com/59...l-waters
I don't wonder where the caffeine comes from. I know its not from Floridian shrubbery though...

Have pleasant day.
NotParker
1.9 / 5 (13) Jul 24, 2012
200 tons? how disingenuous.
Of the 5 cities and towns mulching grounds,


200 tons is the amount we know of for sure.

The distribution is not known.

You fail.
Modernmystic
2.3 / 5 (7) Jul 24, 2012
The article says "high levels", but unfortunately I've found that such concepts are very relative. Since this is a science site it would be nice if we got actual numbers and were "trusted" to make up our own minds.

In any case it's clear that levels are above what would be there if human beings weren't present along the coast. How this is a significant problem I don't know, or the article didn't make entirely clear. I know it said something about problems with muscles, however I'm wondering how close to the coast these levels are taken as I'm quite sure even getting just a tenth of a mile further out would possibly make the levels undetectable. That would be adding a vast amount of water to the equation.
Estevan57
2.3 / 5 (30) Jul 24, 2012
Well NotParker, it was YOUR source, and YOUR distribution.
Have a pleasant day.
Estevan57
2.5 / 5 (22) Sep 13, 2012
Hmmm..
NotParker
2.1 / 5 (11) Sep 13, 2012
"One nanogram per liter is the equivalent of a single cup of coffee diluted into ~100 million (1×10^8) liters, or ~422 million cups of water. The study measured the samples days after a rainstorm, when pollution from storm drain and septic runoff was at its maximum. There's no doubt that it is man-made pollution, but if pollution on that scale "matters", then coffee will have to be disposed of as hazardous waste. Even a cup of coffee casually tossed overboard on a ship should make a measurable "plume" of "contamination" at those levels"

http://inhabitat....n-coast/