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Baltimore's Streams Are Full of Meth

Researchers found amphetamines in water samples from six separate streams around the city, drastically altering the aquatic life.

by VICE Staff
Aug 26 2016, 8:27pm

Photo from Baltimore Zoo via Flickr user David

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The water flowing through Baltimore's streams is tainted by meth and speed, according to a new study published in Environmental Science and Technology, CNN reports.

The study's researchers found that water samples from six separate streams around Baltimore contained amphetamines, especially waterways within the city itself. To test if the small amounts of uppers were negatively affecting aquatic life in the streams or just giving fish a little vim and vigor, researchers built a duplicate stream environment in their lab, complete with rocks and living organisms, and seeded the thing with a sprinkle of ice.

They found that the drugs drastically altered the stream bacteria and minimized the growth of biofilms (the stuff that makes river rocks slimy). It also altered the growth and development of bugs in the stream.

The amphetamines most likely wound up in the water thanks to sewage leakage—people either flush the stuff down their toilet to get rid of it in a hurry or just pee it out of their body naturally, and the drugs eventually wind up in the streams.

As CNN points out, previous studies have already documented the presence of pharmaceuticals in rivers and streams around the country, but this is one of the first times the focus has been turned on illicit drugs like methamphetamine.

Read: A Brief History of Meth

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