Cocaine, other drugs, in Grand River watershed

by Jeff Helsdon | October 15, 2015

drugs - Grand RiverTraces of cocaine and other illicit drugs such as morphine and oxycodone were found in the Grand River watershed by McGill University Researchers who were studying the effectiveness of water treatment plants in removing drugs from municipal sewage.

In a study published in the Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry issue this past summer, McGill Professor Viviane Yargeau, the lead researcher, found these and other chemicals were making their way through water treatment plants along the river.

The study did not look at how the drugs would affect fish in the watershed, but Yargeau believes there would be some impact.

“There is limited information on the impact of these drugs on fish,” she said. “However, other pharmaceuticals have been shown to have effects at similar concentration levels and a recent study demonstrated that environmental concentrations of the cocaine metabolite benzoylecgonine induced sub-lethal toxicity in the development of plants…”

Previously, a study revealed estrogen from birth control pills that made its way into watersheds through sewage treatment plants impaired the reproductive ability of fish.

Yargeau said there are treatment technologies available for wastewater treatment facilities that can remove drugs.

She said European facilities and one in Montreal have incorporated this technology.

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