Wastewater Analysis Identifies What Illegal Drugs Are Used Where


When people take drugs, they end up in the water, either unchanged or broken down into specific metabolites. [W]ater can be tested to gauge how much drug use is going on in an area.

[R]esearchers detected cocaine in 93 percent of the untreated water samples. Based on the relative level of cocaine’s metabolites, they determined that most of the drug ended up there via human excretion, rather than direct disposal.

[M]orphine was found in 100 percent of the untreated water [probably from heroin being broken down in the human body].

Other, similar tests have uncovered related findings in other areas, reported in Environmental Health News:

  • In London, cocaine and ecstasy spike on weekends while methadone is used more consistently.
  • In Italy, cocaine use has declined while use of marijuana and amphetamines has increased.
  • In Sweden and Finland, people use more amphetamines and methamphetamines and less cocaine than other European cities. Also, in Finland, stimulants were more common in large cities.
  • In Zagreb, Croatia, marijuana and heroin were the most commonly found illicit drugs, but cocaine and ecstasy showed up more frequently on weekends.
  • In Oregon, cocaine and ecstasy are more common in urban than in rural wastewater according to a 2009 study.
  • Amphetamine use on his campus skyrockets during finals.

Via Popular Science.

This entry was posted in Culture, Science by Heretic. Bookmark the permalink.

About Heretic

I design video games for a living, write fiction, political theory and poetry for personal amusement, and train regularly in Western European 16th century swordwork. On frequent occasion I have been known to hunt for and explore abandoned graveyards, train tunnels and other interesting places wherever I may find them, but there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that I am preparing to set off a zombie apocalypse. Nothing that will stand up in court, at least. I use paranthesis with distressing frequency, have a deep passion for history, anthropology and sociological theory, and really, really, really hate mayonnaise. But I wash my hands after the writing. Promise.

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