Analysis of wastewater using high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry can be used as a proxy of illicit drug use. The analysis determines levels of cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy, the synthetic opiate buprenorphine, and their metabolites.
The research shows that cocaine use at weekends is much higher than during the week and that overall levels of abuse are lower than in Spain and Italy. The study could assist the authorities in understanding illicit drug use and determining actual levels of consumption of various drugs, so that the problem can be better managed.
S. Karolak, T. Nefau, E. Bailly, A. Solgadi, Y. Levi, Forensic Sci. Int. 2010, online