Festival-goers who take drugs may be harming wildlife with their urine.
Scientists discovered that harmful traces of narcotics were making their way into adjacent rivers, prompting festivalgoers to adjust their urinating practices.
Glastonbury Festival is one of the largest and most popular music festivals in the United Kingdom, attracting over 200,000 visitors in 2019.
Scientists from Bangor University in Wales decided to measure the water quality of surrounding rivers before, during, and after the festival, both upstream and downstream of the festival site, to see how it changed. The location is bordered by two rivers, the Whitelake and Redlake.
Because illicit drugs frequently find their way into music events, the researchers decided to conduct a drug pollution test in the surrounding area. They looked for narcotics including cocaine, benzoylecgonine, and MDMA, among others.
There were no substantial changes detected by the Redlake measurements. However, the researchers discovered signs of all three substances in the Whitelake site, with levels much greater downstream than upstream of the festival.
Drug contamination, according to the research team, is entering the river through festival-goers’ public urinating.
MDMA levels were discovered to be high enough to be classified as hazardous to aquatic life. Traces were discovered at 104 times higher amounts downstream than upstream.
The same drug was discovered to have reached its greatest level the weekend after the festival, implying that it continues to drain from the festival site even after the event has ended.
Cocaine was also discovered at levels known to impair the lifecycle of European eels, a protected species, according to a press release issued by Bangor University.
The substance was identified 40 times greater downstream than upstream of the festival venue.
The study included Dan Aberg from the university’s School of Natural Sciences. In a news statement, he stated that “illicit drug contamination from public urine occurs at every music festival,” but that because Glastonbury is so close to a river, the narcotics do not have time to decay in the soil before reaching the water.
The team’s “primary concern,” according to Christian Dunn, a zoology lecturer at Bangor who headed the study, was the medications’ potential to harm the environment. This is a condensed version of the information.