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Music festivals and drugs: Wastewater analysis

Mackuľak, Tomáš, Brandeburová, Paula, Grenčíková, Anna, Bodík, Igor, Staňová, Andrea Vojs, Golovko, Oksana, Koba, Olga, Mackuľaková, Markéta, Špalková, Viera, Gál, Miroslav, Grabic, Roman
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.659 pp. 326-334
European Union, cities, cocaine, metabolites, methamphetamines, music, patients, police, questionnaires, wastewater, wastewater treatment, Czech Republic, Slovakia
Drug consumption in individual cities, regions, and at various music events and festivals across the EU has generally been monitored via questionnaires, patients' medical data, and police reports. However, an overview of drug consumption obtained from these methods can be negatively affected by various subjective factors. We aimed to investigate an association between levels of target drugs in wastewater, music genres, and festival courses. The occurrence of illicit drugs, their metabolites, and psychoactive compounds was investigated in the influent of six wastewater treatment plants in the Czech and Slovak Republic during seven large-scale music festivals from different music genres: metal, rock, pop, country and folk, ethnic, multi-genre, dance, and trance. The total number of participants included >130,000 active festival attendees. The association between music genre and illicit drug and/or psychoactive pharmaceutical consumptions is discussed on the basis of the results obtained through wastewater analyses. The observed trend was similar to worldwide published data with a specific local phenomenon of methamphetamine prevalence that did not significantly change between music events. Increased specific loads of cocaine (measured as its metabolite benzoylecgonine) and Ecstasy, along with some cannabis, were mainly observed during pop/rock and dance music festivals. However, there was no significant increase observed in the specific loads of all monitored psychoactive pharmaceuticals. This study demonstrates that the abuse of some illicit drugs is closely associated with specific music preferences.