German statistics on cocaine consumption have to be revised after a new study of water from German rivers revealed that the white powder is sniffed in much larger quantities than had been thought.
Tons of cocaine is sniffed in Germany each year
Probes taken from the Rhine near Düsseldorf alone show that the 38.5 million people living along the river take in almost 11 tons of pure cocaine worth 1.64 billion euros ($1.92 billion) each year, the online version of Der Spiegel magazine reported Wednesday.
The Rhine in Düsseldorf is especially cocaine-contaminated
The study, conducted by the Institute for Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Research (IBMP) in Nuremberg, checked the concentration of benzoylecgonine, the major metabolite of cocaine that is released via a person's urine, in the water.
In their most recent statistics, the German government and the EU assume that about 400,000 people in Germany use cocaine at least once a year. Based on the river data, this would mean that each one of them would have to sniff the highly unlikely number of 16 lines, or portions, of the drug each day.
Researchers say that the new method is so precise that they can detect even the smallest traces of cocaine in the water.
"We can detect even a single dosis of cocaine of 50 to 100 milligrams," the IMBP's Fritz Sörgel told Der Spiegel.
London's Thames is also full of cocaine metabolites
Similar studies in Britain and Italy also produced equally startling results: London's Thames River contains the equivalent of 80,000 lines of cocaine each day, while the metabolites of 40,000 daily lines float in Italy's Po River, which flows through the city of Turin.