Cocaine, MDMA and methamphetamine residues in wastewater: Consumption trends (2009–2015) in South East Queensland, Australia

Foon Lai, Jake O'Brien, Phong Thai, Wayne Hall, Gary Chan, Raimondo Bruno, Christoph Ort, Jeremy Prichard, Steve Carter, Shalona Anuj, Kenneth Kirkbride, Coral Gartner, Melissa Humphries, Jochen Mueller

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    33 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Wastewater analysis, or wastewater-based epidemiology, has become a common tool to monitor trends of illicit drug consumption around the world. In this study, we examined trends in cocaine, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and methamphetamine consumption by measuring their residues in wastewater from two wastewater treatment plants in Australia (specifically, an urban and a rural catchment, both in South East Queensland) between 2009 and 2015. With direct injection of the samples, target analytes were identified and quantified using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Cocaine and MDMA residues and metabolites were mainly quantifiable in the urban catchment while methamphetamine residues were consistently detected in both urban and rural catchments. There was no consistent trend in the population normalised mass loads observed for cocaine and MDMA at the urban site between 2009 and 2015. In contrast, there was a five-fold increase in methamphetamine consumption over this period in this catchment. For methamphetamine consumption, the rural area showed a very similar trend as the urban catchment starting at a lower baseline. The observed increase in per capita loads of methamphetamine via wastewater analysis over the past six years in South East Queensland provides objective evidence for increased methamphetamine consumption in the Australian population while the use of other illicit stimulants remained relatively stable.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)803-809
    Number of pages7
    JournalScience of The Total Environment
    Volume568
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2016

    Keywords

    • Drug epidemiology
    • Drug markets
    • Illicit stimulants
    • LC-MS/MS
    • Rural areas
    • Urban cities

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