Illicit drugs in water system at Glastonbury

A study by the University of Bangor has suggested festival goers at Glastonbury are damaging the environment. Inadvertently. Dan Aberg, a Masters student and Dr Daniel Chaplin carried out the study. They looked at the levels of illicit drugs in watercourses before, during and after the 2019 Glastonbury Festival. This was the last year the festival was held.

It was found that MDMA concentrations quadrupled the week after the festival suggesting long-term release from the site. They also discovered that cocaine concentrations rose to levels known to affect the lifecycle of European eels. The plight of the Somerset eel is now so bad it is a protected species.

Mr Aberg noted “Unfortunately, Glastonbury Festival’s close proximity to a river results in any drugs released by festival attendees having little time to degrade in the soil before entering the fragile freshwater ecosystem.”

During the study the scientists looked at the impact on the nearby Whitelake River which feeds into the River Brue river system. They found that the nearby Redlake River, upstream of the festival site, experienced no similar contamination.

The study noted that the real problem was public urination on the site. The Glastonbury Festival has literally hundreds of toilets on site and organisers encourage festival goers to use them. The official toilets are managed in such a way as to avoid contaminating local watercourses. However the study noted that the high level of public urination on the site, without using the toilets, was the source of the environmental pollution.

The study recognises that illicit drug contamination from public urination happens at every music festival. It was accepted that the level of contamination is unknown. The scientists are urging festivals to give out information on the harmful effects of public urination.

If you want to read the full text of the study you can find it here https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0013935121013566

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