There are drugs in the water in Canada, apparently. That's what a recent study from McGill University in Montreal says, although it's pretty easy to figure out why: People do drugs (legal and not), they excrete some of those drugs into toilets, and the drugs travel in the water back from whence the water came. All very disgusting, but ultimately predictable.
The problems are that drugs are making it through water-treatment processes to be discharged in "clean" water and sent back into rivers and lakes, and that these drugs can affect aquatic life. The study found cocaine, amphetamines, MDMA, ephedrine, opioids, and more in various water samples from the Grand River watershed in Southern Ontario, "albeit in low concentration."
When treated water was found to contain drugs, it was usually not in any amount that would affect humans, but fish are much smaller and more likely to be exposed to contaminated water (by dint of their living in water). While most prescription drugs have been tested for their effects on fish, many illegal drugs have not.
Even at the low levels that make it into treated water, the study's lead author Dr. Viviane Yargeau said that "there is an effect on the endocrine system or on the behavior of fish that might affect the fish population and the aquatic environment."
The solution to this problem, according to the research team, is better water-treatment procedures. Yargeau and her team have begun a five-year study into wastewater contamination to that end.
"We believe that if improvements are made to wastewater treatment plants to protect the sources of drinking water, this will prove a more effective way of dealing with the problem in the long run and would also protect the aquatic environment and all the plants, insects, and fish that are found there," said Yargeau.
In the meantime, maybe someone should start studying what the hell all that coke is doing to the fish.
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Photo via Flickr user Tambako the Jaguar