British scientists working to see what pharmaceutical compounds are appearing in purified water discovered trace amounts of cocaine, The Independent reports.
Researchers from the Drinking Water Inspectorate found benzoylecgonine, which is the metabolized form of cocaine after passing through the body. According to DrugScope, close to 700,000 people between the ages of 16 to 59 are believed to take cocaine in Britain every year, while about 180,000 are dependent users of crack cocaine. "We have the near highest level of cocaine use in western Europe," Steve Rolles of the drug policy think tank Transform told The Sunday Times. "It has also been getting cheaper and cheaper at the same time as its use has been going up."
Researchers said that four nanograms of cocaine were found in each liter of water, an amount so low that it is unlikely to pose a threat to the public. In addition to benzoylecgonine, scientists discovered trace mounts of ibuprofen, caffeine, and carbamazepine, a drug to treat epilepsy.