It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the waters of our planet are full of drugs. From prescription and over-the-counter ones, to antibiotics, caffeine, and even illegal drugs. A recent study, which the journal Science of the Total Environment recently published, proves just how dangerous these illicit substances can be for aquatic life. For example, some researchers in Italy have recently found that cocaine in water can even make eels hyperactive and trigger some serious side effects. The biggest problem here is that European eels are already endangered. Factors like overfishing, pollution or habitat-loss make their numbers decrease quicker than ever.
In order to reach this result, the team of researchers split 150 European eels into many different tanks. Some tanks contained small quantities of cocaine, about the same concentration that also exists in the planet’s waters. Other tanks only contained tap water. They kept the eels in those tanks for 50 days. After that, they put the two groups of cocaine-exposed eels in clean tanks. One group for three days, while the other for ten. After this period, the eels were unfortunately killed and dissected for scientific purposes.
Cocaine in water also affects eels
During the experiment, the team of researchers noticed that these eels were swimming unusually fast. But on the outside, they seemed as healthy as the other eels. However, their insides were the most affected, it seems. The cocaine had accumulated in the eels’ muscles, skin, gills and brain. Their muscle fibers had begun breaking down.
There are a lot of way in which these illegal drugs can end up in the planet’s waters. Most of the times, they are flushed down the toilet or thrown in sinks. Also, they can end up in wastewater because our bodies excrete some of these substances. Apart from affecting aquatic life, these drugs in water can also affect people.
Image source: flickr