Wastewater Used To Map Illicit Drug Use

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A study published in the July issue of Addiction examined the waste water from 100 different communities in order to assess the levels of cocaine metabolite benzoylecgonine (BZE) and methamphetamine. The findings were consistent with the authors’ expectations. Urban areas showed higher levels of cocaine metabolite benzoylecgonine than rural areas. However, there were no notable differences in levels of methamphetamine between rural and urban communities. According to J. Banta-Green, of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues, “This demonstration provides the first evidence of the utility of wastewater-derived community drug loads for spatial analyses… such data have the potential to improve dramatically the measurement of the true level and distribution of a range of drugs. Drug index load data provide information for all people in a community and are potentially applicable to a much larger proportion of the total population than existing measures.” This study confirms the infectious problem that meth has become in all communities. It is cheap and easily accessible and does not appear to discriminate in its destruction of lives. There must be something that we (communities in America) can do differently. Click here to read an article from Scientific American that discusses the study more.

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