Illicit Drugs In Waterways: An Environmental Vulnerability

There have been many reports that state that drugs have been making their way in the environment through water channels. There are so many daily products that contain different drugs that make their ultimate route through water into the bigger channels. A new study has impacted the significance of the contaminants in polluting the environment. The effect of amphetamines on the health of waterways has been thoroughly researched and published in the journal of Environmental Science and Technology.

“The presence of pharmaceuticals, including illicit drugs in aquatic systems, is a topic of environmental significance because of their global occurrence and potential effects on aquatic ecosystems and human health, but few studies have examined the ecological effects of illicit drugs,” the study said.

The researchers tested four Baltimore streams along with four controls. They measured the ecological effects of amphetamine and found that the growth of algae and biofilms was suppressed with amphetamines seeping into the water.

Rosi Marshall who is the co-author of the study summarized, “What we found was that the primary production, so the growth of the algae was suppressed when we exposed them to amphetamine and that the composition in the what we call the biofilms which is the sort of slick, slimy stuff on tops of rocks, but that’s composed of diatoms, which are single-celled algae and bacteria. We found that the composition of those communities was altered when we added amphetamines.”

In the study’s own words this research says, “It demonstrates that amphetamine and other biologically active drugs are present in urban streams and have the potential to affect both structure and function of stream communities.”

The Baltimore sun reported, “While drugs have long been detected in urban waterways, the researchers have shown for the first time that the chemicals can cause chain reactions up the food chain long after their effects wear off for users.”

It has been stated that even in the most protected waters, pharmaceutical and personal care products, PPCP’s are seeping. The pollution is increasing and waterways need to be protected and the direction of the worried finger should be pointed towards it.


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