Results of drugs found in wastewater of Slovenian educational institutions published / 28.09.2021

Researchers from the Department of Environmental Sciences published the results of a survey on the presence of residues of permitted and prohibited drugs and medicines that are abused in educational institutions in Slovenia in the journal Science of the total Environment.

Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) is an innovative approach to obtaining information on the exposure of a selected population to various risk factors (eg harmful substances) and information on people's habits (eg eating habits, drug use) and their health (COVID-19 monitoring). The approach is based on the determination of the content of human metabolites (biomarkers) in wastewater using chemical analysis and is becoming an increasingly important complement to existing tools for monitoring trends in the use of licit and illicit drugs.

The process of epidemiology of wastewater is carried out annually in the wastewater of six Slovenian cities within the ARRS development and application project Illicit drugs, alcohol and tobacco: epidemiology based on wastewater, treatment efficiency and vulnerability of the water system, which we run at JSI. In the 2018/2019 school year, we also carried out the WBE procedure on the wastewater of selected Slovenian educational institutions. For this purpose, we analysed wastewater from 44 primary and secondary schools and higher education institutions from urban and non-urban areas in six Slovenian municipalities. We followed the occurrence of residues of permitted drugs (nicotine, alcohol), drugs that are abused (morphine, codeine, methadone) and illicit drugs (cannabis, cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, ecstasy and heroin). As expected, we most often detected residues of nicotine, alcohol and cannabis, and we also proved the presence of residues of morphine and codeine and stimulants (especially cocaine). The results showed a difference in drug prevalence between different levels of education, geographic location, and degree of urbanization. In the conclusions, we critically compared the results with published studies and the results of population surveys conducted by the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ).

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The study is going to be published on September 30, 2021 -

The presentation is available on youtube