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The embodiment of wastewater data for the estimation of illicit drug consumption in Spain

AuthorsBijlsma, Lubertus; Picó, Yolanda; Andreu, Vicente; Celma, Alberto; Estévez-Danta, Andrea; González-Mariño, Iria; Hernández, Félix; López de Alda, Miren ; López-García, Ester ; Marcé, Rosa María; Miró, Manuel; Montes, Rosa; Pérez de San Román-Landa, Unai; Pitarch, Elena; Pocurull, Eva; Prieto, Ailette; Postigo, Cristina ; Rico, Andreu; Rodil, Rosario; Valcárcel, Yolanda; Ventura, Mireia; Quintana, José Benito
KeywordsDrugs of abuse
Wastewater-based epidemiology
Chiral analysis
National drug monitoring
Issue Date10-May-2021
CitationScience of the Total Environment 772: 144794 (2021)
AbstractData obtained from wastewater analysis can provide rapid and complementary insights in illicit drug consumption at community level. Within Europe, Spain is an important country of transit of both cocaine and cannabis. The quantity of seized drugs and prevalence of their use rank Spain at the top of Europe. Hence, the implementation of a wastewater monitoring program at national level would help to get better understanding of spatial differences and trends in use of illicit drugs. In this study, a national wastewater campaign was performed for the first time to get more insight on the consumption of illicit drugs within Spain. The 13 Spanish cities monitored cover approximately 6 million inhabitants (12.8% of the Spanish population). Untreated wastewater samples were analyzed for urinary biomarkers of amphetamine, methamphetamine, MDMA, cocaine, and cannabis. In addition, weekend samples were monitored for 17 new psychoactive substances. Cannabis and cocaine are the most consumed drugs in Spain, but geographical variations showed, for instance, comparatively higher levels of methamphetamine in Barcelona and amphetamine in Bilbao, with about 1-fold higher consumption of these two substances in such metropolitan areas. For amphetamine, an enantiomeric profiling was performed in order to assure the results were due to consumption and not to illegal dumping of production residues. Furthermore, different correction factors for the excretion of cannabis were used to compare consumption estimations. All wastewater results were compared with previously reported data, national seizure data and general population survey data, were a reasonable agreement was found. Daily and yearly drug consumption were extrapolated to the entire Spanish population with due precautions because of the uncertainty associated. These data was further used to estimate the retail drug market, where for instance cocaine illicit consumption alone was calculated to contribute to 0.2–0.5% of the Spanish gross domestic product (ca. 3000–6000 million Euro/year).
Publisher version (URL)MINECO/ICTI2013-2016/
Appears in Collections:(IDAEA) Artículos
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