News & Opinion | June 21, 2018 12:31 pm

Eels Are Getting High On Drugs Polluting Our Waterways

Study finds wastewater contaminated with cocaine harms the ability of fish to reproduce.

cocaine
European eel (Wikipedia)

Critically endangered eels are getting so hyped up on drugs that they might not be able to make a 3,700-mile trip to reproduce, new research shows. Societies have long struggled with how to deal with the use of illicit drugs, but little is understood about the effects those drugs have on other species when they enter the aquatic environment through wastewater runoff. In order to better understand this issue, scientists introduced cocaine to the lab environments of European eels for 50 days in a row, in order to monitor the effects on fish.

The study showed that the eels are vulnerable to even trace amounts of the drug, particularly early in their lives. “Data show a great presence of illicit drugs and their metabolites in surface waters worldwide,” says Anna Capaldo, a research biologist at the University of Naples Federico II and the lead author of the study. She also said that water near densely populated cities is even worse.