Estimating daily and diurnal variations of illicit drug use in Hong Kong: A pilot study of using wastewater analysis in an Asian metropolitan city

Lai, Foon Yin, Bruno, Raimondo, Leung, Ho Wing, Thai, Phong K., Ort, Christoph, Carter, Steve, Thompson, Kristie, Lam, Paul K. S. and Mueller, Jochen F. (2013) Estimating daily and diurnal variations of illicit drug use in Hong Kong: A pilot study of using wastewater analysis in an Asian metropolitan city. Forensic Science International, 233 1-3: 126-132. doi:10.1016/j.forsciint.2013.09.003

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Author Lai, Foon Yin
Bruno, Raimondo
Leung, Ho Wing
Thai, Phong K.
Ort, Christoph
Carter, Steve
Thompson, Kristie
Lam, Paul K. S.
Mueller, Jochen F.
Title Estimating daily and diurnal variations of illicit drug use in Hong Kong: A pilot study of using wastewater analysis in an Asian metropolitan city
Journal name Forensic Science International   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0379-0738
1872-6283
Publication date 2013-12-10
Year available 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.forsciint.2013.09.003
Open Access Status File (Author Post-print)
Volume 233
Issue 1-3
Start page 126
End page 132
Total pages 7
Place of publication Shannon, Co. Clare Ireland
Publisher Elsevier Ireland Ltd
Language eng
Subject 2734 Pathology and Forensic Medicine
Abstract The measurement of illicit drug metabolites in raw wastewater is increasingly being adopted as an approach to objectively monitor population-level drug use, and is an effective complement to traditional epidemiological methods. As such, it has been widely applied in western countries. In this study, we utilised this approach to assess drug use patterns over nine days during April 2011 in Hong Kong. Raw wastewater samples were collected from the largest wastewater treatment plant serving a community of approximately 3.5 million people and analysed for excreted drug residues including cocaine, ketamine, methamphetamine, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and key metabolites using liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry. The overall drug use pattern determined by wastewater analysis was consistent with that have seen amongst people coming into contact with services in relation to substance use; among our target drugs, ketamine (estimated consumption: 1400-1600. mg/day/1000 people) was the predominant drug followed by methamphetamine (180-200. mg/day/1000 people), cocaine (160-180. mg/day/1000 people) and MDMA (not detected). The levels of these drugs were relatively steady throughout the monitoring period. Analysing samples at higher temporal resolution provided data on diurnal variations of drug residue loads. Elevated ratios of cocaine to benzoylecgonine were identified unexpectedly in three samples during the evening and night, providing evidence for potential dumping events of cocaine. This study provides the first application of wastewater analysis to quantitatively evaluate daily drug use in an Asian metropolitan community. Our data reinforces the benefit of wastewater monitoring to health and law enforcement authorities for strategic planning and evaluation of drug intervention strategies.
Keyword China
Cocaine
Ketamine
MDMA
Methamphetamine
Substance consumption
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

 
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