Fish from UK waterways contain COCAINENE, ketamine, pesticides and medicines


Fish from UK rivers contain traces of COCAINENE, ketamine, pesticides and drugs

  • Cocaine was found in every sample from 15 sites around Suffolk
  • Scientists called it “surprising” – especially the regular occurrence in wildlife.
  • The local anesthetic lidocaine which is used in dentistry was also common
  • Pesticides long banned in the UK were present in some samples

Scientists were shocked when traces of illegal party drugs were found in freshwater shrimp swimming in British countryside rivers.

Drugs such as cocaine and ketamine were discovered by a team investigating 15 sites in five rivers around Suffolk to see what chemicals were in the water.

The authors said “surprisingly” that they found cocaine in each sample, while party drug ketamine and other pharmaceuticals were also found in shrimp.

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Scientists were shocked when traces of illegal party drugs were found in freshwater shrimp swimming in rivers in the UK countryside (stock image)

Kings College scientists working with the University of Suffolk collected water samples from rivers in the rural county.

Dr Leon Barron of King’s College London added: “Such a regular occurrence of illicit drugs in wildlife was surprising. We might expect to see them in urban areas such as London, but not in smaller watersheds and more rural.

“The presence of pesticides which have long been banned in the UK also poses a particular challenge as the sources of these remain unclear.”

In all 56, different substances were detected – and the drug of abuse, cocaine, was most commonly found along with lidocaine.

Lidocaine has legal uses as a local anesthetic in dentistry, but is also often used illicitly to “cut” cocaine because it produces numbness in the gums like cocaine, making users think they are using cocaine. which has a similar effect.

Lead author Dr Thomas Miller of King’s College London said: “Although the concentrations are low, we have been able to identify compounds which may be of concern to the environment and, more importantly, which may pose a risk to the environment. wildlife.

Dr Miller added: “As part of our ongoing work, we have found that the most frequently detected compounds are illicit drugs, including cocaine and ketamine, and a banned pesticide, fenuron.”

The authors tested sites on the Deben, Alde, Stour, Waveney and Gipping rivers.

The authors declared

The authors said “surprisingly” they found cocaine in every sample taken from the waterways around Suffolk – while ketamine, a party drug, and other pharmaceuticals have also been found in shrimp (stock image)

MDMA, also known as ecstasy, has also been found, as has methamphetamine – the drug “crystal meth” produced on the Breaking Bad TV show. Salbutamol, a drug used in asthma inhalers, has also appeared.

Scientists said “the source of the widespread cocaine contamination is unclear.”

They said there are small sewage treatment plants around Suffolk that drain into waterways which can remove up to 90 percent of the cocaine. They said it was “unlikely” that the application of deactivated sewage sludge to fields was the source.

Professor Nic Bury of the University of Suffolk said: “Whether the presence of cocaine in aquatic animals is a problem for Suffolk, or a more widespread occurrence in the UK and abroad, awaits further research.

“Environmental health has gained a lot of public attention due to the challenges associated with climate change and microplastic pollution. However, the impact of ‘invisible’ chemical pollution (such as drugs) on wildlife health needs to be further targeted in the UK, as policy can often be informed by studies such as these. “

The research was published in International environment.


Streams such as rivers, streams and canals are connected to waste disposal systems and filtration plants.

As a result, they can be contaminated from a variety of sources – both legal and illegal.

For example, cocaine and other illicit drugs such as MDMA, ketamine and methamphetamines are commonly found in UK waterways.

Pharmaceuticals have also been found in trace amounts in shrimp.

There are also legal drugs such as the local anesthetic, lidocaine, commonly used in dentistry because it is often used illicitly to “cut” cocaine.

Salbutamol, a drug used in asthma inhalers, also appears with fenuron, a banned pesticide.

Pesticides are often found in large quantities in waterways when they wash away farmland.


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