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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Refining the estimation of amphetamine consumption by wastewater-based epidemiology

Gao, Jianfa; Burgard, Daniel A.; Tscharke, Benjamin J.; Lai, Foon Yin; O'Brien, Jake W.; Nguyen, Hien D.; Zheng, Qiuda; Li, Jiaying; Du, Peng; Li, Xiqing; Wang, Degao; Castiglioni, Sara; Cruz-Cruz, Copytzy; Antonio Baz-Lomba, Jose; Yargeau, Viviane; Emke, Erik; Thomas, Kevin V.; Mueller, Jochen F.; Thai, Phong K.


Consumption of amphetamine and methamphetamine, two common illicit drugs, has been monitored by wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) in many countries over the past decade. There is potential for the esti-mated amount of amphetamine used to be skewed at locations where methamphetamine is also consumed, because amphetamine is also excreted to wastewater following methamphetamine consumption. The present study aims to review the available data in the literature to identify an average ratio of amphetamine/meth-amphetamine (AMP/METH) that is excreted to wastewater after methamphetamine consumption. This ratio could then be used to refine the estimation of amphetamine consumption in catchments where there is both amphetamine and methamphetamine use. Using data from more than 6000 wastewater samples from Australia where methamphetamine is the dominant illicit amphetamine-type substance on the market, we were able to subtract the contribution of legal sources of amphetamine contribution and obtain the median AMP/METH ratio in wastewater of 0.09. Using this value, the amphetamine derived from methamphetamine consumption can be calculated and subtracted from the total amphetamine mass loads in wastewater samples. Without considering the contribution of amphetamine from methamphetamine use, selected European catchments with comparable consumption of amphetamine and methamphetamine showed up to 83% overestimation of amphetamine use. For catchments with AMP/METH ratio greater than 1.00, the impact of amphetamine from methamphetamine would be negligible; for catchments with AMP/METH ratio in the range of 0.04-0.19, it will be difficult to accurately estimate amphetamine consumption.


Amphetamine -like substances; Chemical ratios; Drug consumption; Wastewater analysis

Published in

Water Research
2022, volume: 225, article number: 119182

Authors' information

Gao, Jianfa
Shenzhen University
Burgard, Daniel A.
Univ Puget Sound
Tscharke, Benjamin J.
University of Queensland
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
O'Brien, Jake W.
University of Queensland
Nguyen, Hien D.
University of Queensland
Zheng, Qiuda
University of Queensland
Li, Jiaying
University of Queensland
Du, Peng
Beijing Normal University
Li, Xiqing
Peking University
Wang, Degao
Dalian Maritime University
Castiglioni, Sara
IRCCS Mario Negri
Cruz-Cruz, Copytzy
Instituto Nacional De Salud Pública
Antonio Baz-Lomba, Jose
Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA)
Yargeau, Viviane
McGill University
Emke, Erik
KWR Water Res Inst
Thomas, Kevin V.
University of Queensland
Mueller, Jochen F.
University of Queensland
Thai, Phong K.
University of Queensland

UKÄ Subject classification

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology

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