” Drug users might be less than forthright about their illicit habits—but they all have to pee. With that in mind, scientists are drug-testing entire sewer systems to study just how popular illegal drugs have become.
Dan Burgard, an associate chemistry professor, knew students tried to get an edge. But he didn’t know about the “study drug.”
” I was walking with a student,” Burgard said, “and they bemoaned that it wasn’t students cheating nowadays to get ahead, but that they were taking Adderall,” a potent amphetamine used to treat attention disorders.
Burgard had an idea: Let’s test the campus sewage. What he and his students at University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, found confirmed their suspicions.
Sewage tests, particularly in Europe, are starting to paint a picture of drug trends in various countries and cities:
- In London, cocaine and ecstasy spike on weekends while methadone is used more consistently.
- In Italy, cocaine use has declined while use of marijuana and amphetamines has increased.
- In Sweden and Finland, people use more amphetamines and methamphetamines and less cocaine than other European cities. Also, in Finland, stimulants were more common in large cities.
- In Zagreb, Croatia, marijuana and heroin were the most commonly found illicit drugs, but cocaine and ecstasy showed up more frequently on weekends.
- In Oregon, cocaine and ecstasy are more common in urban than in rural wastewater according to a 2009 study.
- During Superbowl weekend in Miami in 2010, drug levels in sewage did not differ much from a normal weekend.
- In three anonymous Canadian cities, cocaine was the most widely detected drug, while ecstasy levels were much lower than expected, according to a 2011 study.”
Story continues at Gizmodo