Illicit drugs in Canadian municipal wastewater and estimates of community drug use.Environ Pollut 2010; 158(10):3179-85EP
In this study of wastewater treatment plants in three Canadian cities, selected illicit drugs, including cocaine and its major metabolite, benzoylecgonine (BE), amphetamine, methamphetamine and ecstasy (i.e. MDMA) were detected in untreated wastewater. Cocaine was the most widely used illicit drug at a median level for the 3 cities of 15.7 doses per day per 1000 people. For the other drugs, the median doses per day per 1000 people were 1.8 for amphetamine, 4.5 for methamphetamine and 0.4 for ecstasy. Methamphetamine use was highest in the largest city and cocaine use was lowest in the smallest city. Removal of the illicit drugs by wastewater treatment was generally >50%, except in a WWTP that uses primary treatment. The community consumption estimate for ecstasy in the present study is far below published estimates of the prevalence of ecstasy use among the Canadian population, which may be due to only occasional use of ecstasy.