Drugs on tap

A team based in Spain has tested drinking water samples from Europe, Japan and South America for various legal and illicit drugs. Their analysis revealed the presence of caffeine and nicotine as well as cotinine, cocaine and its metabolite benzoylecgonine, methadone and its metabolite EDDP. However, while caffeine was present at relatively high levels, the researchers describe the presence of cocaine and illicit drugs as at only ultratrace levels on the boundary of detectability. The presence of pharmacologically active agents in the water supply has been an ongoing environmental concern, with worries about the presence of estrogenic compounds and toxic chemicals. The work by the team provides a new baseline for a wide range of compounds for future studies and epidemiological work.