Ayman AlSaadi and Wayne G Carter from the School of Medicine, University of Nottingham, illustrate the value of analysing the wastewater of specific populations to gain insight into levels of illegal drug usage and other health-related biomarkers.
WASTEWATER-BASED epidemiology (WBE) standardises analyte influent concentration to population mass loads, thus providing insights on the activity of people within a specific catchment area. This information enables evaluations of possible population consumption, usage, and potential exposure risk management to chemical or biological agents.
An international standardised system has been established, with frequent wastewater sampling campaigns initiated to establish trending patterns of geographical drug usage”
Over the last two decades, WBE has developed into a recognised and productive branch of epidemiology. The advent of mass spectrometry‑based techniques has afforded a means to rapidly and accurately analyse drugs and their metabolites extracted from wastewater, as well as potentially link them to a specific community.1,2 The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) has employed this approach to estimate illicit drug usage in multiple cities and towns across Europe.3 Furthermore, an international standardised system has been established, with frequent wastewater sampling campaigns initiated to establish trending patterns of geographical drug usage.3,4
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