Determination of illicit drugs and biomarkers in raw municipal wastewater influent as a tool for drug epidemiology


Aurea C. Chiaia, chiaiaa@onid.orst.edu1, Daniel L. Sudakin, sudakind@ace.orst.edu1, Caleb Banta-Green, calebbg@u.washington.edu2, and Jennifer A. Field, Jennifer.field@orst.edu1. (1) Environmental and Molecular Toxciology, Oregon State University, 30 Campus Way, Corvallis, OR 97331, (2) Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, University of Washington, 1107 NE 45th St., Suite 120; Box 354805, Seattle, WA 98105-4631
The synthesis and abuse of illicit drugs is a widespread public health problem. Current techniques in drug-use epidemiology are limited by time lags, poor geographic resolution, substantial under-reporting bias, and an over reliance on morbidity and mortality data. To address these limitations, we have initiated a program that links analytical measurements for illicit drugs, key metabolites and precursors with population indicators including residents served by sewer districts as well as human population biomarkers. A sensitive and selective analytical method based on large-volume injection and liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry was developed to quantify abuse drugs and human biomarkers in raw sewage influents with a goal of obtaining high throughput and accuracy. Illicit drugs, metabolites, and precursor concentrations measured in 24 hr flow-normalized composites of raw influents from municipal wastewater treatment plants are normalized against population indicators for use as a low-cost tool to estimate community burdens of illicit drugs.