Study finds traces of cocaine, other illegal drugs in Ontario drinking water

A file photo of a woman filling a glass. Getty Images/Antoine Arraou

MONTREAL – A new study says drinking water in parts of southern Ontario contains traces of several illegal drugs – including cocaine.

Researchers at McGill University found water discharged from waste-water treatment plants in the Grand River watershed has the potential to contaminate sources of drinking water with drugs such as morphine, cocaine and oxycodone.

The study – published in the journal Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry – says the drugs are found only in relatively limited quantities in the river water.

However, it notes their concentration did not decline with distance downstream from the waste-water treatment plant and says many of the drugs were not removed completely during drinking-water treatment.

Lead author Prof. Viviane Yargeau of McGill’s Department of Chemical Engineering says improving waste-water treatment processes can help clean up drinking water.

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Yargeau says the results of the study demonstrate a link between waste-water plant discharges and quality of drinking-water sources.

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