Pacific Northwest: 21 coastal spots have caffeine

The Pacific Northwest may be the epicenter of U.S. coffee culture, and now a new study shows the region's elevated caffeine levels don't stop at the shoreline.

After taking samples from 21 spots along the coast, researchers expected to find the most caffeine pollution in areas near wastewater treatment plants, large population centers or rivers and streams emptying into the ocean.

Instead, they found high caffeine levels near areas not near the potential pollution sources — and low levels of caffeine near large population centers.

The findings indicate that wastewater treatment plants are effective at removing caffeine from the water, but that high rainfall and combined sewer overflows flush caffeine out to sea. Researchers are not yet sure how caffeine concentrations affect wildlife and plant life.

A common conception of the Pacific Northwest includes the U.S. states of Oregon, Washington and Idaho, as well as the Canadian province of British Columbia and territory of the Yukon.

This definition is often restricted further to include only the coastal areas west of the crest of the Cascade Mountains and Canadian Coast Mountains.