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Pastoral Pollution

Drugs Found in Rural Rivers

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Researchers at King’s College London and the University of Suffolk have found a diverse array of cocaine, pharmaceuticals and pesticides in UK river wildlife, as described in a study published in Environment International. The team collected samples of freshwater shrimp from five catchment areas and 15 different sites across the agricultural county of Suffolk. Cocaine was found in all samples tested, and other illicit drugs, pesticides and pharmaceuticals were also widely recorded in the survey. Dr. Leon Barron, from King’s College London, notes, “Such regular occurrence of illicit drugs in wildlife was surprising. We might expect to see these in urban areas such as London, but not in smaller and more rural catchments. The presence of pesticides that have long been banned in the UK also poses a particular challenge, as the sources of these remain unclear.”


This article appears in the July 2019 issue of Natural Awakenings.

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