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Drug use increase in European cities: wastewater report

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Drug use increase in European cities: wastewater report

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(LISBON) - The latest findings from the largest European project in the emerging science of wastewater analysis were presented Thursday by the Europe-wide SCORE group, in association with the EU drugs agency.

The project analysed wastewater in 73 European cities in 20 European countries in March 2018 to explore the drug-taking behaviours of their inhabitants. The 2018 study points to an increase in the detection of amphetamine, cocaine and MDMA in wastewater samples, compared to the 2017 figures.

From Lisbon to Athens and from Copenhagen to Madrid, the study analysed daily wastewater samples in the catchment areas of wastewater treatment plants over a one-week period. Wastewater from approximately 46 million people was analysed for traces of four illicit drugs: amphetamine, cocaine, MDMA (ecstasy) and methamphetamine.

Wastewater based epidemiology is a rapidly developing scientific discipline with the potential for monitoring close to real-time, population-level trends in illicit drug use. By sampling a known source of wastewater, such as a sewage influent to a wastewater treatment plant, scientists can now estimate the quantity of drugs used in a community by measuring the levels of illicit drugs and their metabolites excreted in urine (see motion graphic for method).

Further information, EU drugs agency (EMCDDA)

Study results: 'Wastewater analysis and drugs - a European multi-city study'

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) on wastewater epidemiology

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