Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Drug residues in Swedish sewage water

Date:
December 17, 2013
Source:
Umeå universitet
Summary:
Chemists in Sweden have been able to trace narcotics substances and prescription drugs in measurements of wastewater from 33 Swedish sewage treatment plants. Cocaine, amphetamine, and methamphetamine, in measurable concentrations, were found in a total of half of the locations.

Chemists at Umeå University in Sweden have been able to trace narcotics substances and prescription drugs in measurements of wastewater from 33 Swedish sewage treatment plants. Cocaine, amphetamine, and methamphetamine, in measurable concentrations, were found in a total of half of the locations.

When a person consumes a drug it is excreted through the digestive system, either unchanged or as metabolites through the body and ends up in the wastewater. Through taking a sample of water in treatment plants and measuring the levels of drugs can provide a snapshot of the drug usage in a particular city.

The method has been used before, both in Sweden and abroad, and is a complement to other methods to estimate drug use in society.

"What is unique about our study is its scope and this is the first time this method has been used to screen the entire country for drugs," says Marcus Östman, who led the study and is a PhD student at the Department of Chemistry at Umeå University. "Previous measurements in Sweden have only applied to single locations and a limited number of substances. In addition, we have developed a faster and more cost-effective measurement to conduct this type of research."

The measurements were performed on one day in January 2012. The concentrations were generally low when compared with similar studies from other European countries.

"The results were quite expected, but the variations between different places and different parts of Sweden was surprisingly large," says Marcus Östman. "For instance, some smaller municipalities had fairly high levels of the dangerous drug methamphetamine. Since we measure using a chemical scale, it is no problem to distinguish methamphetamine from amphetamine."

The research team found the remains of a total of 13 different narcotic substances in the incoming wastewater of the investigated Swedish treatment plants. The most common substances were used as medicine: oxazepam (anti-anxiety), codeine (painkiller), morphine (pain reliever) and tramadol (analgesic). These substances were found in all treatment plants in the study.

Of the illicit non-prescription drugs included in the study, the following were detected in the sewage water samples: cocaine (12 locations), amphetamines (13 locations), and methamphetamine (16 locations). Heroin, ecstasy or LSD could not be detected.

The highest level of cocaine and amphetamine were found in Gothenburg, the largest city in the study. The researches then detected a different pattern. Methamphetamine content seemed not to be correlated to the size of the city in any way. The municipality of Köping had the highest concentration of methamphetamine. The smaller municipalities of Bollebygd and Lycksele generally had fewer detected drugs and in lower concentrations compared to other cities.

"Tracking of wastewater is a new effective tool which is interesting from a public health perspective," states Marcus Östman. "It's a much faster way to get an overview of drug use than the classical indirect methods like confiscations at customs and surveys. For example, we might see if a new drug arrived in a city."

The study is published in the journal Science of the Total Environment. The co-authors are Jerker Fick, Richard Lindberg and Elin Näsström, researchers at the Department of Chemistry at Umeå University.

The following narcotic substances were included in the study: alprazolam, flunitrazepam, midazolam, oxazepam, LSD, ketamine, amphetamine, khat, cocaine, MDA, MDMA, MDEA, MBDB, Mephedrone, methampfetamine, methylphenidate, buprenorphine, codeine, fentanyl, heroin, methadone, morphine, oxycodone, tramadol and zolpidem.

The following municipalities in Sweden were included in the study: Gällivare, Haparanda, Luleå, Piteå, Skellefteå, Lycksele, Umeå, Örnsköldsvik, Östersund, Härnösand, Söderhamn, Mora, Borlänge , Gävle, Arvika, Karlstad, Örebro, Köping, Eskilstuna, Nyköping, Norrköping, Stenungsund, Gothenburg, Bollebygd , Borås, Visby, Oskarshamn, Kalmar, Karlskrona, Halmstad, Helsingborg, Hässleholm and Trelleborg.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Umeå universitet. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Marcus Östman, Jerker Fick, Elin Näsström, Richard H. Lindberg. A snapshot of illicit drug use in Sweden acquired through sewage water analysis. Science of The Total Environment, 2014; 472: 862 DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.11.081

Cite This Page:

Umeå universitet. "Drug residues in Swedish sewage water." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131217085213.htm>.
Umeå universitet. (2013, December 17). Drug residues in Swedish sewage water. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131217085213.htm
Umeå universitet. "Drug residues in Swedish sewage water." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131217085213.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

AP (July 22, 2014) — Two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on the legality of the federally-run healthcare exchange that operates in 36 states. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) — The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Newsy (July 22, 2014) — Boston scientists have discovered a new way to create fully functioning human platelets using a bioreactor and human stem cells. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) — New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins