Largest multi-city study on drug wastewater analysis released today

The findings of the largest European project to date in the emerging science of wastewater analysis (WWA) are released today in an article published in Addiction. The project in question — steered by the Europe-wide SCORE network — analysed wastewater in over 40 European cities to explore the drug-taking habits of those who live in them. Its conclusions are taken up in the European Drug Report 2014, launched by the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) today, as well as in an online interactive analysis by the agency dedicated to the issue (Perspectives on drugs).


coverOrt, C., A. L. van Nuijs, J. D. Berset, L. Bijlsma, S. Castiglioni, A. Covaci, P. de Voogt, E. Emke, D. Fatta-Kassinos, P. Griffiths, F. Hernández, I. González-Mariño, R. Grabic, B. Kasprzyk-Hordern, N. Mastroianni, A. Meierjohann, T. Nefau, M. Ostman, Y. Pico, I. Racamonde, M. Reid, J. Slobodnik, S. Terzic, N. Thomaidis and K. V. Thomas (2014). “Spatial differences and temporal changes in illicit drug use in Europe quantified by wastewater analysis.” Addiction 109(8): 1338-1352.

Read more: Largest multi-city study on drug wastewater analysis released today

ES&T’s Best Papers 2013: Two SEWPROF members among co-authors

ES&T first pageThe journal Environmental Science and Technology (ES&T) selected 15 articles for the best papers 2013. In the category Environmental Technology Jake O’Brien’s (UQ/Entox, Australia) manuscript, with Jochen Mueller (also UQ/Entox, Australia) and Christoph Ort (Eawag, Switzerland) amongst the co-authors, was third-runner up.

The manuscript describes an innovative method to estimate the number of people who contributed to a wastewater sample. Measuring multiple pharmaceuticals in wastewater allows reliably quantifying day-specific population sizes and realistic uncertainty estimates thereof. These are important numbers to calculate population-normalized drug loads in wastewater-based epidemiology.

Jake W. O’Brien, Phong K. Thai, Geoff Eaglesham, Christoph Ort, Andreas Scheidegger, Steve Carter, Foon Yin Lai, and Jochen F. Mueller. A Model to Estimate the Population Contributing to the Wastewater Using Samples Collected on Census Day. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2014, 48 (1), 517–525 doi: 10.1021/es403251g.

Wastewater-based epidemiology shortlisted at td-award 2013

Finalists at the td-award ceremony 2013 (photo by td-net)

Finalists at the td-award ceremony 2013 (photo by td-net)

On 21 October 2013 in Bern, Switzerland, the td-net (Network for Transdisciplinary Research) honoured recent developments and ongoing collaborations in the field of wastewater-based epidemiology. The td-award recognises an outstanding trans-disciplinary approach pushing boundaries of trans-disciplinary research.

The team of applicants lead by Christoph Ort (Eawag, Switzerland) involved nine scientists from SEWPROF ITN.

The jury from the td-net evaluates projects related to framing a complex problem, co-production of knowledge between disciplines, inclusion of stakeholders, scientific rigour and societal relevance.

SEWPROF ITN meets in Oslo

Training day participants

Training day participants

Key challenges in the sampling and analysis was the focus of the second SEWPROF training event that took place in Oslo on Monday 9 and Tuesday 10 September 2013. The aim of the event was to provide the early stage researchers with an understanding of the different factors that may influence the quality of their raw data and how important this aspect is with regards wastewater analysis.

The first day focused on the different aspects around wastewater sampling and sample handling, including practical and theoretical approaches. Day 2 started with a site visit to VEAS wastewater treatment works where the researchers were told about the history of the plant, how wastewater is collected and transported to the plant and how it is treated before discharge into the Oslofjord.

Students visiting VEAS

Students visiting VEAS

For some early stage researchers, this was their first visit to a treatment plant and an insight into the scale of operation when treating the wastewater from a large city. Following lunch the researchers gave presentations of their individual projects and discussed the interactions and possible synergies with other partners.

Marie Mardal, SEWPROF’s Early Stage Career Researcher and ESRs’ representative to SEWPROF Supervisory Board said: “ESRs found a better understanding of what our respective projects were about and what possible collaborations we could make within the network, particularly for our secondments. There were plenty of opportunities to discuss with and learn from researchers who are more experienced within this field of research. We were given feedback from researchers working with complementary angles on the project, making us think of our research from new perspectives and keeping us within the frames of the project.”



Lubertus Bijlsma wins award for best Environmental Chemistry article

Pim de Voogt, Lubertus Bijlsm and Erik Emke accept their award

Pim de Voogt, Lubertus Bijlsma and Erik Emke accept their award

At the annual congress of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Europe (SETAC), held in Glasgow, Robert Bijlsma from the University Jaume I in Castellon (Spain) received the award for best 2012 scientific article in the field of Environmental Chemistry. Bijlsma won the award for the research he carried out at KWR as a visiting researcher in 2011 in collaboration with professor of chemistry Pim de Voogt and researcher Erik Emke.

The article, entitled “Investigation of drugs of abuse and relevant metabolites in Dutch sewage water by liquid chromatography coupled to high resolution mass spectrometry,” was published in Chemosphere, 89 (2012, p. 1399-1406).

SEWPROF ITN meets for the first time in the city of Bath

DiscussionsThe first SEWPROF training event took place in Bath on Monday 22 – Wednesday 24 April 2013. The three day event, entitled ‘Human Health and the Environment’, provided an excellent opportunity for early stage career researchers to interact and to engage with key themes within the context of the network.

The first day focused on the ‘Urban Water Cycle’. The key challenges including fate of micro-pollutants (illicit drugs and pharmaceuticals) in the aqueous environment, during wastewater treatment and in drinking water were discussed. During the second day themed ‘Hazardous Substances and Human Health’ human exposure and risks from environmental and food toxicants were evaluated. The third day entitled ‘New Synthetic Drugs of Abuse’ provided an overview of the patterns of use of new psychoactive drugs in the UK and Europe.

The participants also attended the skills training sessions ‘Knowledge and Intellectual Abilities: Creative and Critical Thinking’ and team building activities, which focused on the development and prioritisation of key ideas and subsequent presentation.

The whole SEWPROF team