Scientists have found traces of illicit drugs, pharmaceuticals and pesticides in samples of freshwater shrimp tested in a rural area of eastern England.
Researchers at King's College London, in collaboration with the University of Suffolk, tested 15 different locations across Suffolk and were “surprised” to discover cocaine in all of them.
The full results of the study were published in the journal Environment International.
"Such regular occurrence of illicit drugs in wildlife was surprising," Leon Barron from King's College London said in a press release.
Traces of fenuron, a pesticide that has long been banned in the UK were also found added Barron, who said that the sources of the chemical are not clear.
Lead author from King's College London said though the concentrations of the drug is low, they are able to identify compounds that might be of concern to the environment and specially to that which may risk wildlife.
Professor Nic Bury from the University of Suffolk said the impact of 'invisible' chemical pollution (such as drugs) on wildlife health needs more focus in the UK.
The study, published in Environment International, looked at the exposure of wildlife, such as the freshwater shrimp Gammarus pulex, to different micropollutants.
Researchers collected the samples from the rivers Alde, Box, Deben, Gipping and Waveney.
High levels of benzoylecgonine, the main metabolite of cocaine, have previously been detected in wastewater in London.
Microplastics are also a concern, with the tiny plastic particles being found inside fish, sea turtles and even flying insects, the researchers said.
Scientists have found evidence that they are entering the human body, with microplastics in human stools for the first time in 2018.
(With IANS inputs)