Sci Total Environ. 2022 May 3:155697. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.155697. Online ahead of print.
The COVID-19 pandemic spread rapidly worldwide in the year 2020, which was initially restrained by drastic mobility restrictions. In this work, we investigated the use of illicit drugs (amphetamine, methamphetamine, ecstasy, cocaine and cannabis), and licit substances of abuse (alcohol and tobacco) during the earlier months (March-July 2020) of the pandemic restrictions in four Spanish (Bilbao and its metropolitan area, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Castellón and Santiago de Compostela) and two Portuguese (Porto and Vila do Conde) locations by wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE). The results show that no methamphetamine was detected in any of the locations monitored, while amphetamine use was only detectable in the two locations from the Basque Country (Bilbao and its metropolitan area and Vitoria-Gasteiz), with high estimated average usage rates (700-930 mg day-1 1000 inhabitant-1). The remaining substances were detected in all the investigated catchment areas. In general, no remarkable changes were found in population normalized loads compared to former years, except for cocaine (i.e. its main metabolite, benzoylecgonine). For this drug, a notable decrease in use was discernible in Castellón, while its usage in Porto and Santiago de Compostela seemed to continue in a rising trend, already initiated in former years. Furthermore, two events of ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, MDMA) dumping in the sewage network were confirmed by enantiomeric analysis, one in Santiago de Compostela just prior the lockdown and the second one in the Bilbao and its metropolitan area in July after relieving the more stringent measures. The latter could also be associated with a police intervention. The comparison of WBE with (web) survey data, which do not provide information at a local level, points towards contradictory conclusions for some of the substances, thereby highlighting the need for stable WBE networks capable of near real-time monitoring drug use.
Source: ncbi 2