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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2015 Nov 1;156:311-314. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.09.006. Epub 2015 Sep 14.

Prevalence and distribution patterns of amphetamine and methamphetamine consumption in a federal state in southwestern Germany using wastewater analysis.

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Department of Experimental and Clinical Toxicology, Saarland University, Homburg, Germany. Electronic address:
Entsorgungsverband Saar, Saarbrücken, Germany.



Wastewater analysis is a new approach developed to estimate drug (of abuse) consumption in large communities, such as cities or even whole countries.


This paper presents data on the loads of amphetamine and methamphetamine measured in ten wastewater treatment plants in different parts of a German federal state. It provides an estimation of the intensity of the consumption and a comparison to other regions in Germany and Europe.


Consumption of amphetamine and methamphetamine was estimated by analysis of drug residues in composite 24h samples of wastewater after mechanical treatment over one week by liquid chromatography-high resolution tandem mass spectrometry. Samples were collected from the inlet of ten wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) in the federal state of Saarland, representing bigger cities (>200,000 inhabitants), medium sized cities (>50,000 inhabitants), small cities (>25,000 inhabitants), and villages (<25,000 inhabitants). In each WWTP, samples were taken daily for seven consecutive days in July 2014.


We observed differences of amphetamine versus methamphetamine loads (expressed as mg/day/1000 inhabitants): Amphetamine loads were much higher in all tested WWTPs indicating a low prevalence of methamphetamine abuse in the federal state of Saarland at the tested period. These findings are in line with previous reports about the distribution of amphetamine and methamphetamine in Germany and Europe.


The approach confirms that wastewater analysis can provide valuable data about the abuse pattern of drugs of abuse in cities and larger areas. It can be useful for planning interventions aimed at specific areas and substances.


Amphetamine; Drug epidemiology; Methamphetamine; Wastewater analysis

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