Send to

Choose Destination
Sci Total Environ. 2012 Apr 1;421-422:144-62. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.01.020. Epub 2012 Feb 22.

Sewer epidemiology mass balances for assessing the illicit use of methamphetamine, amphetamine and tetrahydrocannabinol.

Author information

Department of Civil Engineering & Applied Mechanics, McGill University, 817 Sherbrooke St. West, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3A 2K6.


In sewer epidemiology, mass balances are used to back-extrapolate measurements of wastewater influent concentrations of appropriate drug residues to assess the parent illicit drug's level of use in upstream populations. This study focussed on developing and refining mass balances for the use of illicit methamphetamine, amphetamine and tetrahydrocannabinol. As a first step, a multi-criteria evaluation was used to select unchanged methamphetamine, unchanged amphetamine and 11-nor-9-carboxy-tetrahydrocannabinol as the most appropriate drug residues to track a selected population's use of illicit methamphetamine, amphetamine and tetrahydrocannabinol, respectively. For each of these selected drug residues, mass balances were developed by utilizing all disposition data available for their release from all their respective sources, incorporating route-of-administration considerations where relevant, and accounting for variations in the metabolic capacity of users of the various relevant licit and illicit sources. Further, since the selected drug residues for the use of methamphetamine and amphetamine cannot only result from their use but numerous other licit and illicit sources, comprehensive general source models were developed for their enantiomeric-specific release to sewers. The relative importance of the sources identified in the general source model was evaluated by performing national substance flow analyses for a number of countries. Results suggested that licit sources of methamphetamine are expected to be only of significance in populations where its illicit use is minor. Similarly, in populations where the use of illicitly produced amphetamine is currently of relevance, licit contributions to the sewer loads of amphetamine are likely to be of negligible importance. Lastly, the study of tetrahydrocannabinol back-extrapolation mass balances suggested that further research is required to assess the importance of fecal elimination of 11-nor-9-carboxy-tetrahydrocannabinol.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center