In some Baltimore streams, the concentration of amphetamine in the water is so high that it can affect the “aquatic food web.”
A study released this week in the journal Environmental Science & Technology is one of the first to explore the consequences of drug pollution in city waterways.
Lee and her team tested six sites in the city in 2013 and 2014 and found numerous drugs, including amphetamine, with the highest concentrations in the most urban areas.
Suburban and urban fieldwork focused on the Gwynns Falls watershed. The Oregon Ridge watershed was also tested.
The field work was followed up with an artificial stream experiment in a lab. After recreating the conditions of the natural stream, researchers monitored ecosystem effects over three weeks.
The found that, in streams with amphetamine added, “the growth of biofilms was significantly suppressed, the composition of bacterial and diatom communities changed, and aquatic insects emerged earlier.”
“We have every reason to suspect that the release of stimulants to aquatic environments is on the rise across the globe… [Read more.]