Monitoring temporal changes in use of two cathinones in a large urban catchment in Queensland, Australia

Phong Thai, Foon Lai, Methsiri Edirisinghe, Wayne Hall, Raimondo Bruno, Jake O'Brien, Jeremy Prichard, Kenneth Kirkbride, Jochen Mueller

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    31 Citations (Scopus)


    Wastewater analysis was used to examine prevalence and temporal trends in the use of two cathinones, methylone and mephedrone, in an urban population (> 200,000 people) in South East Queensland, Australia. Wastewater samples were collected from the inlet of the sewage treatment plant that serviced the catchment from 2011 to 2013. Liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry was used to measure mephedrone and methylone in wastewater sample using direct injection mode. Mephedrone was not detected in any samples while methylone was detected in 45% of the samples. Daily mass loads of methylone were normalized to the population and used to evaluate methylone use in the catchment. Methylone mass loads peaked in 2012 but there was no clear temporal trend over the monitoring period. The prevalence of methylone use in the catchment was associated with the use of MDMA, the more popular analogue of methylone, as indicated by other complementary sources. Methylone use was stable in the study catchment during the monitoring period whereas mephedrone use has been declining after its peak in 2010. More research is needed on the pharmacokinetics of emerging illicit drugs to improve the applicability of wastewater analysis in monitoring their use in the population.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)250-255
    Number of pages6
    JournalScience of The Total Environment
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


    • Australia
    • Cathinone
    • Drugs of abuse
    • LC-MS/MS
    • Sewage epidemiology


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