Where Do Music Festivals Drugs Wind Up?
Do you know where your drugs end up? A 2015 Academic study from Taiwan suggest that they may be floating downriver and polluting the environment.
This article was originally published on August 15, 2015.This article originally appeared on Inverse
Finding drugs at a music festival is about as easy as finding music at a music festival. But finding out where the end up on the other end of your buddy’s bad trip is a bit more complicated. As soon as your wide-eyed friend hits the bathroom, those drugs end up in the sewage system that ultimately leads out into the lakes and rivers nearby. Before you know it, you’ve got a lot of fish swimming around and feeling awesome.
Or not so awesome.
Scientists are finding more and more illicit substances flowing into the ecosystem after special events like music festivals. A study from last December authored by public health researchers in Taiwan found that a local festival named “Spring Scream” caused a spike in the drug content of water in and around the beach town of Hengchun. Specifically, the H20 was thick with ecstasy and ketamine, which is a bit more common in that part of the world. Given that “Spring Scream” attracted more than 600,000 music fans, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Even if only 100,000 people took drugs, there would be little to no chance those chemicals wouldn’t be more prevalent in the environment post-show.
Studies like these are part of a new and important effort to understand the phenomenon of “emerging contaminants,” drugs (both legal and illegal) and hygiene products that end up in waste water in high concentrations. Recent studies suggest that only half of all emergent contaminants in treated sewage water are actually removed before the water goes back into the ecosystem, posing risks to both aquatic and terrestrial life. In short, we may all be on drugs all the time even if the government isn’t force feeding us fluoride to make us passive slaves to the man.
A 2011 paper by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, presented as one of the first broad overviews of illicit drugs as environmental contaminants, only serves to underscore this point. Among the substances found in drinking water: codeine, methadone, amphetamine, methamphetamine, MDMA, cocaine, and even LSD. This is kind of an amusing factoid if you live in San Francisco, but not so much if you live in the Coachella Valley.