A.L.N. van Nuijs
P. de Voogt
- Improving wastewater-based epidemiology to estimate cannabis use
- focus on the initial aspects of the analytical procedure
- Analytica Chimica Acta
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
Wastewater-based epidemiology is a promising and complementary tool for estimating drug use by the general population, based on the quantitative analysis of specific human metabolites of illicit drugs in urban wastewater. Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug and of high interest for epidemiologists. However, the inclusion of its main human urinary metabolite 11-nor-9-carboxy-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC-COOH) in wastewater-based epidemiology has presented several challenges and concentrations seem to depend heavily on environmental factors, sample preparation and analyses, commonly resulting in an underestimation. The aim of the present study is to investigate, identify and diminish the source of bias when analysing THC-COOH in wastewater. Several experiments were performed to individually assess different aspects of THC-COOH determination in wastewater, such as the number of freeze-thaw cycles, filtration, sorption to different container materials and in-sample stability, and the most suitable order of preparatory steps. Results highlighted the filtration step and adjustment of the sample pH as the most critical parameters to take into account when analysing THC-COOH in wastewater. Furthermore, the order of these initial steps of the analytical procedure is crucial. Findings were translated into a recommended best-practice protocol and an inter-laboratory study was organized with eight laboratories that tested the performance of the proposed procedure. Results were found satisfactory with z-scores ≤ 2.
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