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Temporal profile of illicit drug consumption in Guangzhou, China monitored by wastewater-based epidemiology

Zhang, Xiaohan, Huang, Riheng, Li, Ping, Ren, Yuan, Gao, Jianfa, Mueller, Jochen F., Thai, Phong K
Environmental science and pollution research international 2019 v.26 no.23 pp. 23593-23602
cocaine, epidemiology, ketamine, law enforcement, methamphetamines, public health, sewage treatment, supply balance, temporal variation, wastewater, watersheds, China
Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) has been widely used as a complementary method for estimating consumption of illicit drugs in the population. Temporal drug consumption estimates derived from WBE can provide important information for law enforcement and public health authorities in understanding changes in supply and demand of illicit drugs, but currently lacking in China. In this study, influent wastewater samples from a municipal sewage treatment plant in Guangzhou, China were collected for 8 weeks to investigate the temporal change in consumption of six illicit drugs in the catchment. The results indicated that methamphetamine and ketamine were the dominant illicit drugs in Guangzhou with the per capita use of 14.7–470.7 mg/day/1000 people and 64.9–673.7 mg/day/1000 people, respectively. No distinct weekly patterns were observed for illicit drug consumption in Guangzhou, indicating that drug users are likely to be regular ones. Further assessment about the impact of public holidays on the consumption behavior of drugs showed little impact for ketamine (p = 0.689), but higher consumptions of methamphetamine (p = 0.003) and cocaine (p = 0.027) were observed during public holidays than the control period. The considerable decrease in drug consumption observed in October 2017 compared with January and May 2017 was possibly the consequence of law enforcement action.