“Wastewater-based epidemiology is a rapidly developing scientific discipline with the potential for monitoring close to real-time, population-level trends in illicit drug use,” according to Montreal’s McGill University.
Cannabis is king in Tallinn, Estonia — at least if drug residue found in the national capital’s sewage is any indicator.
Amphetamines and cocaine join weed as the most-consumed substances in the Tallinn area, shows an analysis by the National Institute for Health Development, reports ERR News.
It’s impossible to know exactly who is responsible, be it residents or tourists. The capital city is home to large hotels, nightlife and entertainment venues frequented by locals and visitors alike.
“Tourism and entertainment venues affect substance consumption rates, but mostly that of legal substances, like alcohol,” said Katri Abel-Ollo, a researcher at the Centre for Prevention of Drug Addiction and Infectious Diseases, according to ERR.
That said, samples taken from the main pump of a sewage treatment plant over about a week in March 2019 indicate the presence of different drugs was more prevalent on certain days. Consumption of MDMA, cocaine ethanol was mostly a weekend thing, fairly predictable given that’s when people are out partying at entertainment venues and events.
Cannabis was less of a fairweather companion, indicating relatively steady consumption during weekdays. “The consumption of cannabis was similar on all weekdays, which for one is due to the widespread consumption of the drug in Estonia, but also because THC COOH metabolite is detectable in urine for a long time,” EER quotes Abel-Ollo as saying.
THC-COOH is not water-soluble and is stored in fat cells, which means “it stays in the system much longer than other substances,” notes Royal Queen Seeds. “It’s not uncommon for THC-COOH to be detectable for weeks after your last hit.”
“Wastewater-based epidemiology is a rapidly developing scientific discipline with the potential for monitoring close to real-time, population-level trends in illicit drug use,” according to McGill University.
An analysis by SCORE (Sewage analysis CORe group Europe), which involved 37 countries, including two cities in Canada, was carried out from 2011 to 2017. It found that drug consumption in the Quebec communities of Granby and Montreal “was generally around or below the average for all cities included in the study.”
Canada later carried out a year-long pilot test of drugs in the wastewater of Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax.
Which cities housed the biggest bud lovers? Findings for Montreal and Halifax indicated the highest consumption levels while Edmonton showed the lowest.
But Halifax was the undisputed weed winner, with the city showing consumption up to 3.8 times higher than Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto.
While more study is required, the pilot suggests findings offer a starting point to further evaluate drug consumption in major urban centres across Canada.
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