Session 1.1: Wastewater-based Epidemiology and its use and implications for society
This session aims to inform a wide audience, spanning from scientists interested in fate and emissions of chemicals, water authorities wanting to know about the presence of substances in wastewater and what risks they can pose, (local) governments and health authorities interested in (ab)use of substances, and police and justice wishing to obtain information about illegal manufacturing, use and dumping of substances. Four presentations are carefully selected to provide an overview of the current state of wastewater-based epidemiology and its use and implications for society.
Public health monitoring and evaluation is traditionally based upon epidemiological investigations which rely on selecting a small sample from a city or nationwide population. Many assumptions and statistical considerations need to be used to form a policy from the results obtained. The qualitative information thus obtained can be complemented and strengthened by a total quantitative measurement of the population through the analysis of biomarkers in wastewater. This was performed for the first time in Italy in 2008 by Zuccato et al, by determining the loads of the excreted biomarkers from drugs of abuse and back calculate these to the amount of drug consumed by the population. Since 2011the Sewage Analysis CORe group Europe (SCORE) has extended this way of using sewage water for determining the exposure to the so called lifestyle chemicals (eq. cocaine, amphetamine, MDMA (ecstasy), sildenafil (Viagra ©) and alcohol) in Europe. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addictions has embraced this new method of waste water based epidemiology. Wastewater is indeed a mirror of the society that also reveals “dark” parts of society that are normally not visible or documented. For example, the use of counterfeit medicines, and doping by amateur athletes can be demonstrated in this way. Producers of (illegal) substances can discard their waste in the sewer, resulting in malfunction and complete collapses of wastewater treatment plants. Chemical information mining of wastewater can be a source for forensic evidence and supports law enforcement as well as lifestyle and related human health studies