NEW ORLEANS — A Facebook post from a Tennessee Police Department has people all over talking. The Loretto Police Department posted a picture that included a reference to 'meth-gators.' So, is that a real thing?
It sounds pretty crazy, however the post says officers were searching a man's home, when they caught him trying to flush methamphetamine and other items down the toilet. So they wanted to remind people about the danger of that, fearing the wildlife that visit their treatment ponds would ingest it. It also says if it traveled further than the ponds, it could create meth-gators, which got a reaction from people.
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So the big question is, can this happen? Eyewitness News reached out to LuAnn White, a toxicologist at Tulane University and Dr. Jamie Torres, a veterinarian with the Audubon Institute to get their thoughts.
White says it's never good to flush things down toilets, especially drugs, because it all ends up in our water system. However, it's not uncommon. And while it's possible for animals to ingest that contaminated water, the chances of them being effected is low.
"For something like methamphetamine, this is metabolized and broken down, so putting some in there you're not going to get a meth-gator," she said. "For one, the dilution is such the concentration will be low. And the other is that the methamphetamine and many other pharmaceutical drugs are rapidly broken down, so they don't stay in the environment for very long times."
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Eyewitness News also spoke with Torres, who says the same thing. That in order to see effects of drug and methamphetamine consumption, the gator would probably have to be given it driectly. Even then, they're not sure how it'd respond.
"While I do think it's possible, from a theoretical standpoint, when you look at the dilution factors of the drugs being flushed down our toilets and getting into the water supply, the gators would have to ingest a fairly large volume of water to get the effects of methamphetamine. We don't always see the same effects in mammals, birds and reptiles. There's no rule that says a turtle exposed to methamphetamine would respond the same way a gator does."
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So while it can't be completely ruled out, we can verify that it's next to impossible to create meth-gators by flushing drugs down the toilet.