Cocaine is poisoning Quintana Roo’s Great Maya Reef

(Photo: laverdadnoticias.com)

A study published by the journal Environmental Pollution reports the high concentrations of cocaine found in water samples taken off the coast of Quintana Roo, especially in the muncipality of Solidaridad (Playa del Carmen).

After describing the nature of the subsoil of the Yucatan Peninsula and how the leaks of treated water reach the Caribbean Sea, the researchers alerted the risk to marine fauna -including corals- by the presence of benzoylecgonine (BE), a metabolite of cocaine

In addition, cocaine and its primary metabolite, benzoylecgonine (BE) were detected in small amounts . The only possible source of these pollutants is treated or untreated and wastewater, since all these compounds are excreted by humans in the urine and feces.

Pharmaceutical products for human use, illicit drugs and stimulants previously detected in surface waters downstream of discharges from wastewater treatment plants (Metcalfe et al., 2004; Postigo et al., 2010) and pharmaceutical products and caffeine have also been detected in groundwater contaminated by septic tanks. (Carrara et al., 2008; Seiler et al., 1999), “says the document.

It is worth mentioning that the phenomenon is not exclusive to the waters of the Caribbean Sea, since international media report the same phenomenon in the waters of the River Thames in London, as well as the Río Ebro in Spain.

Alfredo Arellano Guillermo, head of the Secretariat of the Environment (Sema) in Quintana Roo, said he did not know anything about the subject.

For biologist Roberto Rojo, director of the Sayab Playa del Carmen Planetarium, the presence of substances in coral  is unprecedented because new substances that include caffeine are being found.

“According to the article, not only cocaine but also other substances such as caffeine and as far as I know I have not seen any study on how it affects corals, however what is really happening is that humans are bringing substances that were not present in this ecosystem previously, “said the director of the Sayab Playa del Carmen Planetarium.

“It would be necessary to monitor more closely all this shipment of substances of all types of substances to the ocean. We should be aware not only of the corals that is the one that concerns us right now, but of the other species that are bieng affected,” he said.

Environmentalist Roberto Villalobos of the NGO “La Tierra es Nuestra Casa” expressed his concern about the results of the North American study of the waters of the Greater Mesoamerican Caribbean. “Hotel waste is a big problem for the reef, everything we discard hits the ocean,” he said.

“We need new and better regulations in Cancun and the Riviera Maya. There are too many tourists and that is causing many environmental problems. In the form of pollution,” Villalobos said.

He concluded by mentioning that the first action to be taken is to regulate the number of hotels, stop the uncontrolled growth of the hotel zones, because we are building beyond the permitted specifications.

“It is absolutely necessary and urgent to analyze ecofriendly projects that are totally sustainable, that have a waste plant and that don’t pollute the ocean”, environmentalist Roberto Villalobos concluded.

TYT Newsroom with information from laverdadnoticias.com



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