Drug-Riddled Urine Is Posing A Threat To Fish

by : Hannah Smith on :
Drug Riddled Urine Is Posing A Threat To FishAlamy

‘Dangerous’ levels of drugs in a river flowing through the Glastonbury festival site are harming conservation efforts in the area, scientists have claimed.

A study found that MDMA and cocaine concentrations in the Whitelake River in Somerset more than quadrupled in the week after the festival when it was last held in 2019, and pointed the finger at festival goers urinating in public rather than using festival toilets.


Unfortunately, the consequences of the drug-laced streams of urine go far beyond just being generally gross, with conservationists warning that they might actually be harming efforts to protect a rare species of European eel found in the river.

Glastonbury Festival site (Alamy)Alamy

Apparently, drug contamination through public urination happens at every festival site, but Glastonbury’s location makes the effects particularly noticeable.

‘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,’ Dan Aberg, a masters student at Bangor University involved in the study told BBC News.


Dr Christian Dunn, a senior lecturer in zoology at the University, added, ‘Our main concern is the environmental impact. This study identifies that drugs are being released at levels high enough to disrupt the lifecycle of the European eel.’

Glastonbury (Alamy)Alamy

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A spokesperson from Glastonbury said they had not received any concerns from the Environment Agency about site contamination, but added that they would be happy to work with researchers to further explore the issue.

They said:


Protecting our local streams and wildlife is of paramount importance to us at Glastonbury Festival and we have a thorough and successful waterways sampling regime in place during each festival, as agreed with the Environment Agency.

We are aware that the biggest threat to our waterways – and the wildlife for which they provide a habitat – comes from festivalgoers urinating on the land.

So while the idea of peeing out in the open might be more appealing than queuing to use a literal cesspit, it turns out it’s not just your fellow campers that are going to suffer.

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Hannah Smith

Hannah is a London-based journalist covering news and features for UNILAD. She's especially interested in social and political activism.

Topics: Animals, Environment, Glastonbury, water


BBC News
  1. BBC News

    Glastonbury Festival: Traces of drugs found in river at site