"The results confirm the presence of drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines, codeine, morphine and cannabis in the surface waters of the L'Albufera National Park at levels ranging between 0.06 and 78.78 nanograms/litre", Yolanda Picó, lead author of the study and a senior professor in the Department of Nutrition and Bromatology at the UV, tells SINC.
Scientists from this university and the Desertification Research Centre (CSIC-UV-GV) analysed the presence of 14 kinds of illegal drugs – including heroin, cocaine and ecstasy – in 16 canals and irrigation channels in the natural park. The study looked for the residue these drugs leave behind in human urine after they have been taken, and which end up in the water.
The results, published in the journal Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, positively showed the presence of eight kinds of drugs, particularly cocaine and ecstasy. "Cocaine and its metabolites (such as benzoylecgonine) were ubiquitous in all the samples taken, while ecstasy (3.4-methylendioximetamphetamine, or MDMA) was also found very frequently", Picó explains.
The greatest drug concentration and frequency was found in the north of the park, above all in the area of the Poyo ravine. Waste water is regularly discharged in this area, and it also has the highest population density (almost 70% of the total population), as well as industry and nightclubs.
The researcher points out that this "indicates, with increasing likelihood, that drugs are reaching the sewer and channel systems, and that in many cases they could be affecting the irrigation channels and waters of the L'Albufera lake".
The team also found very high levels in some particular samples taken in the area of Benifaió and Almusaffes, which can only be explained by the presence of untreated waste water.
A risk for the wetlands
Exhaustive eco-toxocological studies into the risk the presence of these substances in the water could pose to people and the environment have not yet been carried out. However, the scientists have issued a warning about the possible consequences.
"The health problems potentially caused by consuming these, added to the fact that these residues are still strongly pharmacologically active, may have consequences for land organisms and aquatic fauna", said Picó.
The L'Albufera Natural Park is one of the most important wetlands in Europe because of its biodiversity of flora and fauna, and because it is a key area for migratory birds. The area is a SPAB (Special Protection Area for Birds), is on the List of Sites of Community Importance for the Mediterranean Biogeographical Region, and is covered by the RAMSAR Convention on Wetlands.
Paradoxically, the park is surrounded by cities, industries, farms, shopping malls and leisure centres. The wetland is bordered by the Mediterranean highway and the V-31 motorway, and crossed by the Saler motorway and other roads. The L'Albufera is also affected by pressure from the 12 urban centres – including the city of Valencia – and the 14 municipal districts that surround it.
Pablo Vázquez-Roig, Vicente Andreu, Cristina Blasco y Yolanda Picó. "SPE and LC-MS/MS determination of 14 illicit drugs in surface waters from the Natural Park of L'Albufera (València, Spain)". Analytical and Bioanayitical Chemistry 397 (7): 2851-2864, agosto de 2010. DOI 10.1007/s00216-010-3720-x.
SINC | EurekAlert!
How does the loss of species alter ecosystems?
18.05.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Excess diesel emissions bring global health & environmental impacts
16.05.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.
In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.05.2017 | Event News