Aims. This paper describes a new method to estimate the consumption of illicit drugs in a population by monitoring drug residues in wastewater. Methods. The amounts of drug residues carried by wastewater to a treatment plant reflects in fact the amounts collectively excreted with urine by consumers. Results. Illicit drug consumption can thus be back-calculated from the concentration of selected residues in wastewater. We have used this method to estimate the daily consumption of cocaine, opiates, cannabis and amphetamines in Milan, Lugano and London. Profiles of local drug consumption based on wastewater measurements were in line with national annual prevalence estimates obtained by epidemiological approaches. Conclusions. Our evidence-based method allows monitoring of patterns and trends of drug abuse in local communities, and is able to detect qualitative and quantitative consumption changes in real time. This tool can therefore complement survey methods in more realistically describing the drug abuse phenomenon.
|Translated title of the contribution||Evaluation of drug use in cities|
|Number of pages||9|
|Journal||Ricerca e Pratica|
|Publication status||Published - Jan 2009|
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