Cocaine, Xanax And Ketamine Found In Shrimp

UK scientists have discovered a number of man-made chemicals in river shrimps, including pharmaceuticals and pesticides -- however, cocaine was found the most frequently out of all compounds.

The researchers from the University of Suffolk and King's College collected samples of the shrimp from 15 river catchments across Suffolk and observed the micropollutants in their systems.

A total of 56 compounds were detectable in the shrimp and the most common were cocaine and lidocaine -- a local anaesthetic medication that is often cut with cocaine to balance the acidity of the drug.

In fact, cocaine was found in 100 percent of test samples, while alprazolam (sold under the trade name Xanax) was found in 88 percent and ketamine was found in 76 percent.

Shrimp in water. Source: Getty.

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The authors of the paper said that although finding illicit drugs such as cocaine in London's waterways was expected, it was surprising to find it so frequently in rural catchments.

Professor Nic Bury, a researcher from the University of Suffolk and one of the study's authors, said that the impact of micropollutants needs to be assessed in future projects.

"Environmental health has attracted much attention from the public due to challenges associated with climate change and microplastic pollution.

However the 'invisible' chemical pollution (such as drugs) on wildlife needs more focus," he said.

The researchers also discovered a pesticide, fenuron, in the shrimp that is no longer approved for use in the EU and said that the presence of this illegal chemical warrants further investigation.

Cocaine. Source: Getty.

This is not the first time the UK has been made aware of the surprising amount of cocaine in its waterways.

Last year, Bristol was named the cocaine capital of Europe by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

The EMCDDA tested wastewater in 33 European cities and found that Bristol had the highest concentration of cocaine, with Zurich, Antwerp Zuid and Barcelona following as the cities using the drug most.

Testing wastewater for the presence of illicit drugs from urine has become the preferred method of drug monitoring in recent years as it does not rely on the self-reporting of drug takers to assess national rates of use.

Bristol wastewater was found to have 969 milligrams of cocaine per 1,000 people in 2018, which was a significant increase from the 745 milligrams that was detected in 2017.