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SciShow News shares new research into how music festivals can lead to high levels of drugs in your drinking water, and celebrates the man who created the world’s first geological map.

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Music festivals are often highly entertaining joints, if you know what I mean, there's a lot of grass (wink). People do a lot of drugs, is what I'm trying to say.

And there is a new study published last week suggests that all that drug use at music festivals may have some serious effects on the environment. Reporting the journal environmental science and technology, a team of Taiwanese scientists discovered that during a major music festival in Taiwan, the level of recreational drugs in the near by water supply suddenly spiked, a lot.

The researchers spent a year testing water samples from nine different rivers, streams, and waste water treatment plants within 100 kilometers of Spring Scream, an annual music festival that attracts 600,000 revellers every April. They were looking for emerging contaminants, or ECs, a group of synthetic chemicals ranging from hairspray to fertilizers, to pharmaceuticals, and recreational drugs, which humans don't metabolize very well.

A lot of ECs end up going in the toilet, or down the drain, but waste water treatment plants can only remove about half of them, so the rest end up in rivers, soil, and even in our drinking water. Now, the study found that for most of the year the EC levels remained relatively constant, bur during Spring Scream, levels of ecstasy in nearby streams and rivers spiked as much as 600%.

In one treatment plant levels rose from an average of 89 nanograms of ecstasy per liter of water before the festival, to an average of 940 nanograms per liter of water after four days of hard partying. Ketamine, a powerful pain killer, had an even more dramatic rise, reaching more than 9,500 nanograms per liter of water during the festival.

Scientists don't yet know what these numbers mean for aquatic life in the area, but other studies have suggested that ECs can decrease biodiversity and perhaps unsurprisingly change the behavior in fish.

In Spain, for example, scientists have found that increased levels of pharmaceuticals lover the abundance of macro-invertebrates in a river, like insect larvae, worms, and crayfish. And researchers in Sweden found that trace amounts of the anti-anxiety drug Oxazepam altered the behavior of European perch, making them less social, more active and causing them to eat faster. 

So the next time you are a a rock festival getting all crazy, remember that the craziness won't end there, it could also end up in your water.


Now, on to a different kind of rock. We are all about celebrating scientific anniversaries, but here's one you might not see honored with a Google doodle 2015 marking the 200th anniversary of the worlds first geological map of an entire country.

in 1815 William Smith, an English canal surveyor, who unfortunately was not the fresh prince of Bel Air. Created a richly detailed water colored map showing the different strata, or rock layers throughout England, Wales, and Southern Scotland. An area encompassing more than 175,000 square kilometers.

The endeavor began when Smith was a trainee surveyor on a canal project near the town of Bath. He had no formal education, really, just a good eye.

He was surveying the two branches of the canal, each branch in a different valley, when he noticed that each stratum, or rock layer, contained fossils that were unique to just that layer. After closer study he also found that the fossils were arranged in the same descending order in each branch of the canal.

This lead Smith to theorize the principle of faunal succession - that is, if layers of two different Earth locations contain the same sequence of fossils, they must be in the same stratum and therefore from the same time periods.

Smith tested his theory by mapping 23 different strata around Bath in 1799. Then he spent the next 16 years checking across Great Britain, examining exposures in the land like quarries, railroad cuttings and other canals. And finally in 1815 he published all of his findings in a beautiful colorful map that visually portrayed his country's geologic history - with important implications not just for geology, but also for evolutionary biology and a new understanding of the age of the Earth itself.

It became immortalized as the "map that changed the world." Unfortunately, Smith's map was soon plagiarized by the Royal Geographical Society of London and Smith spent the rest of his life in poverty. But, geologists still use Smith's color-coding to identify different strata and his principle of faunal succession helped spawn the entire field of Bio-stratigraphy, the science of dating rocks by examining their fossils.

So thank you, Mr Smith. We hope that someday you get your doodle. And thank you, dear viewers, for watching SciShow news. If you wanna help us share science with the world you can become a supporting subscriber at And don't forget to go to and subscribe.