Methamphetamine: Just One of the Pollutants in Fresh Waterways

A brown trout caught in Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge (USFWS Mountain-Prairie via Flickr [CC BY 2.0])

Meth Pollution in Waterways Turns Trout Into Junkies

by Shi En Kim/

When humans dispose of trash or chemicals in waterways, our aquatic neighbors might regard that waste as food. In a new study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, researchers tested the effect of methamphetamine, a common drug found in wastewater, on brown trout (Salmo trutta) by placing them in a water tank spiked with the drug. The outcome isn’t exactly surprising: Brown trout can get hooked on meth, too.

Meth use has skyrocketed in the United States and Europe in recent years, especially during the pandemic, reports Carrie Arnold for National Geographic. But meth isn’t completely absorbed when consumed, eventually exiting the body in excrement. In their current state, wastewater treatment plants aren’t equipped to remove this kind of contaminant. As a result, meth-laced sewage water released back into the environment still contains high levels of the substance.

“Where methamphetamine users are, there is also methamphetamine pollution of freshwaters,” writes study author Pavel Horký, a behavioral ecologist at the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, to Nicoletta Lanese of Live Science in an email.

The team of researchers studied the effects of the drug on brown trout by replicating meth-polluted wastewater conditions in the lab. Read More:



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  1. The worst right now is Tampa bay, right on time since Piney Point radioactive sewage spill, they are having to send crews to pick up tons of dead fish.
    The number of clean waterways in the US is not acceptable. We produce too much sewage.
    The local trout stream here, has no trout down stream from the discharge.

  2. No mention of the ratio of meth to nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium?
    Commercial Agriculture and river valley septic systems are not going to finance that kind of research.
    Next, gay frogs in danger from hop head trout?
    Blue algae blooms are keeping us out of the local lake but the cranksters just moved to the river bank.
    “You just can’t make this… up”

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