Scientists find traces of narcotics and pharmaceutical drugs in freshwater shrimp
A team of British scientists has discovered cocaine along with other narcotics, chemicals and pharmaceutical drugs in freshwater shrimp from UK rivers, a new study shows.
Researchers from King’s College London found that traces of chemicals, including pesticides and illicit drugs such as cocaine and ketamine, were widespread in wild shrimp found across the county of Suffolk, a rural area in eastern England.
While traces of different substances were found in many of tested specimens, the scientists were surprised to find cocaine was discovered in all of the samples they examined.
The results from the study were published in the journal “Environment International” on May 1.
Researchers reported that they collected shrimp (Gammarus pulex) samples from five catchment areas and 15 different sites across Suffolk.
Scientists at King’s College London, in collaboration with the University of Suffolk, discovered cocaine in every single sample.
“Cocaine was found in all samples tested, and other illicit drugs such as ketamine, pesticides, and pharmaceuticals were also widespread in the shrimp that were collected,” the study said.
According to the Epoch Times, the study authors said that the findings of cocaine were not the shrimps’ fault—consumer products, medicines, and drugs, made up of thousands of different chemicals, can end up in rivers after use and can cause environmental damage.
“Although concentrations were low, we were able to identify compounds that might be of concern to the environment and crucially, which might pose a risk to wildlife,” lead author Thomas Miller from King’s College London said in a press release.
— King’s College London (@KingsCollegeLon) May 1, 2019
“As part of our ongoing work, we found that the most frequently detected compounds were illicit drugs, including cocaine and ketamine and a banned pesticide, fenuron,” Miller added.
“Although for many of these, the potential for any effect is likely to be low.”
Leon Barron from King’s College London said in the press release that he was surprised at “such regular occurrence of illicit drugs.”
“We might expect to see these in urban areas such as London, but not in smaller and more rural catchments,” he said.
He also didn’t know where the cocaine and the pesticides came from.
“The presence of pesticides which have long been banned in the UK also poses a particular challenge as the sources of these remains unclear,” Barron said.
Nic Bury from the University of Suffolk said the question of whether cocaine in aquatic wildlife is a more widespread issue would warrant further research.
“Environmental health has attracted much attention from the public due to challenges associated with climate change and microplastic pollution,” he said in the press release.
“However, the impact of ‘invisible’ chemical pollution (such as drugs) on wildlife health needs more focus in the UK as policy can often be informed by studies such as these.”