A study suggests that there’s so much cocaine in the Thames that eels could be ingesting it and becoming hyperactive..
According to researchers at King’s College London, such a high level of class A drugs is consumed in London that a high level ends up in the Thames – meaning all the creatures that live there take it in.
This links a study from 2018 conducted by the University of Naples Federico II where eels dosed with cocaine in water compared to eels kept in regular water the drugged eels ‘appeared hyperactive’.
Cocaine is a drug that has grown in popularity over the years, especially among those in the highest income bracket – during 2017/18 it was noted in a Home Office study 3.64 percent of that bracket were taking the drug, this is up from 2.2 percent in 2014/2015.
The study at the Naples university found the drug accumulated in the brains, muscles, gills and skin of the eels.
This seemed to have caused the eels to endure injury to the skeletal muscles, including breakdown and swelling which, even after the eels had been taken out of the drugged water, didn’t heal even after ten days.
“This study shows that even low environmental concentrations of cocaine cause severe damage to the morphology and physiology of the skeletal muscle of the silver eel, confirming the harmful impact of cocaine in the environment that potentially affects the survival of this species,” the Naples researchers wrote in their paper.
The researchers at King’s College told the Mirror there is a consistent amount of cocaine monitored in the Thames throughout the week.
They said: “Increases in caffeine, cocaine and benzoylecgonine were observed 24 hours after sewer overflow events. Concentrations of cocaine and benzoylecgonine remained high in wastewater across the week with only a minor increase over the weekend, which is not consistent with other cities.
“London is known as one of the highest consumers of cocaine and this suggested everyday usage.”
It was added in the research that the ‘concentration of cocaine found in the river was so high it lay outside of the quantifiable range’.
This is worrying for the animals that currently reside in the Thames and the long-term effects it may have on them.