The Phaserl


How Illegal Drugs and ADHD Medications are Polluting Urban Streams

by Julie Fidler, Natural Society:

Both legal and illegal drugs are polluting streams in and around at least 1 major U.S. city, a new study reveals. This includes amphetamines, which are biologically active and highly addictive. [1]

The pollution comes at a high cost, ecologically. Areas in some streams have high enough concentrations of amphetamines to alter the bottom of the aquatic food chain. Study author Sylvia Lee said:

“Around the world, treated and untreated wastewater entering surface waters contains pharmaceuticals and illicit drugs that originate from human consumption and excretion, manufacturing processes, or improper disposal.

We were interested in revealing how amphetamine exposure influences the small plants and animals that play a large role in regulating the health of streams.”

What are Amphetamines?

Amphetamines are stimulant drugs that are often used prescribed by doctors to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Illegal amphetamines include cocaine and crystal meth. [2]

How This Impacts Aquatic Life and Environments

In 2013 and 2014, Lee and her colleagues collected water samples from 6 sites in streams flowing from a city to a rural area and measured the concentrations of both legal and illegal drugs in the water.

The streams originated in Baltimore, Maryland. The stream sites involved the Gwynns Falls watershed, in addition to 2 rural streams from the Oregon Ridge watershed.

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