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Study of Shrimp Has an Unwelcome Surprise

Every one tested in UK study had traces of cocaine
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2019 10:25 AM CDT
Updated May 5, 2019 1:45 PM CDT
Stock photo.   (Getty/chengyuzheng)

(Newser) – How's this for an unwelcome surprise in a study of freshwater shrimp: Every one tested in a study of 15 different sites in Britain's rural Suffolk County had traces of cocaine, reports the Guardian. Oh, and traces of the drug ketamine were widespread. Also showing up: a long-banned pesticide called fenuron, reports CNN. In a release from King's College London, researchers emphasized that they're talking about "micropollutants" here, meaning that, no, the shrimp in Suffolk's rivers aren't stoned. In fact, they say the "potential for any effect is likely to be low" on the creatures, not to mention any humans that consume them.

Still, the results speak to the larger problem of pollutants getting into waterways. "Such regular occurrence of illicit drugs in wildlife was surprising," says one of the researchers. "We might expect to see these in urban areas such as London, but not in smaller and more rural catchments." The next step is to widen the research to see if the same findings apply throughout the UK, to better assess the impact of what the scientists call "'invisible' chemical pollution." (Another concern for marine life: plastic waste.)

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