Looking into the lives of freshwater shrimp in the tranquil English countryside, you’ll discover enough drugs to make a funk band on tour extremely happy.
A new research discovered significant quantities of cocaine, ketamine, Valium, Xanax, tramadol, and other drugs in freshwater shrimp bodies and their environment in Suffolk, UK. The researchers also discovered residues of chemicals that are now prohibited by the EU.
Scientists from King’s College London examined levels of micropollutants in surface water samples and Gammarus pulex freshwater shrimp from 15 distinct sites in Suffolk, England, and published their findings in the journal Environment International. They were astounded to find trace quantities of at least 67 distinct contaminating chemicals. Cocaine was the most often discovered pollutant, and it was found in every single shrimp from all 15 sites.
“Such frequent prevalence of illegal substances in animals was shocking,” said Dr Leon Barron, a forensic scientist at King’s College. “These may be expected in urban places like London, but not in smaller and more rural catchments.” The presence of pesticides that have long been outlawed in the UK provides an additional issue because the sources of these remain unknown.”
The impact of all these illegal medicines is unknown, but the shrimp are unlikely to earn a high-paying job on Wall Street. Researchers are now delving further into the issue and conducting additional study on the impact of medicines and other micropollutants on shrimp and other aquatic species.
“Whether the prevalence of cocaine in aquatic creatures is a problem in Suffolk or a more general problem in the UK and elsewhere warrants future investigation,” said study author Professor Nic Bury of the University of Suffolk.
“Due to the issues linked with climate change and microplastic contamination, environmental health has received a lot of public attention.” However, the influence of ‘invisible’ chemical pollution (such as medicines) on animal health need further attention in the UK, since research like this may frequently guide policy.”
Other research have looked at the effects of particular medications on aquatic fauna. A 2018 research discovered that European eels exposed to low doses of cocaine suffer permanent physiological impairment. Because these creatures are already highly endangered, their drug addiction might be serious enough to imperil the species’ existence.