A study by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency reported this week that Minnesota lakes contain traces of cocaine, antidepressants and chemical byproduct from household and prescription drugs.
The MPCA took samples from 50 Minnesota lakes and tested for 125 chemicals.
Samples of cocaine showed up in one third of the lakes tested.
“Maybe we shouldn't be too surprised that we're seeing cocaine in our environment like we see some of the other pharmaceuticals as well," Minnesota Pollution Control Agency researcher Mark Ferrey said.
Bisphenol A, found in plastic, appeared in 40 percent of the lakes sampled. The chemical impairs reproduction and can cause brain tumors.
"These studies, probably for the first time, are giving us the data that we can statistically extrapolate to say, 'well, this is the condition of the lakes in our state.’" Ferrey said.
The common insect repellent DEET, which can impair functioning parts of the brain, was found in 76 percent of lakes. DEET’s combination with other chemicals makes it even more potent.
The veterinary antibiotic Carbadox, which is used in hog production and can cause cancer, was found in 30 percent of lakes. The run-off from Minnesota factory farms is likely a contributing factor in its release.
According to Ferrey, over 60,000 chemicals are currently in use, of which less than one percent are regulated by the Federal Clear Water Act.