Wastewater is an invaluable source of information about human lifestyle and health. This information can be used by public health authorities to monitor and improve the health of their communities.
Below you will find a list of past and ongoing projects involving SCORE members.
Europe is an important market for illicit drugs and the consumption of these substances is linked to high human and social costs, which affect public health and safety, the environment as well as labour productivity. The EU Drugs Strategy 2013-2020 has among its objectives to contribute to ‘… a better dissemination of monitoring, research and evaluation results and a better understanding of all aspects of the drugs phenomenon and of the impact of interventions in order to provide sound and comprehensive evidence-base for policies and actions.’ EUSEME aims to provide insights into new trends and potential threats.
Although the consumption of substances controlled under the UN Conventions on drugs (‘controlled drugs’) seems to have stabilized in recent years, a major challenge has arisen which is the emergence of new synthetic substances that emerge on the market at a rapid speed. New psychoactive substances (NPS) are increasingly available that often replicate the effects of controlled drugs, and are typically marketed as legal alternatives to them because they are not subjected to similar control measures. Estimating the prevalence of use of NPS continues to present challenges, especially through general population surveys. NPSeuronet aims at further developing wastewater-based epidemiology to monitor consumption of NPS at the community level.
The WATCH project was commissioned by the EC-DG-HOME to investigate the potential of wastewater analysis of traces of illicit drug-related chemicals for law enforcement and public health. Population-normalised mass loads of cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine and MDMA were calculated based on wastewater analysis in 47 cities in Europe, covering more than 18 million inhabitants. Long-term sampling campaigns were performed in three cities to investigate the influence of holiday periods on illicit drug loads, and to assess the possible influence of direct discharges on consumption estimates.
SEWPROF established inter-disciplinary and cross-sectoral research capability and trained the next generation of scientists working in the new and exciting field of wastewater-based epidemiology. SEWPROF developed and validated new, integrated tools towards public health monitoring at a community level based on innovative wastewater-based epidemiology techniques. WBE focussed on profiling of community-wide health and lifestyle through the analysis of human biomarkers in wastewater using a wide-range of methods including hyphenated mass spectrometry techniques, bioanalytical techniques and biosensors.
The Action developed and expanded an existing pan-European inter-disciplinary network, bringing together experts from relevant disciplines interested in the application and development of using the quantitative measurement of human biomarkers in wastewater to evaluate lifestyle, health and exposure at the community level. In order to achieve its objectives the Action managed a common Europe-wide testing platform that developed best practice and provided a significant increase in the comparable spatio-temporal resolution of available data. Furthermore, it coordinated the development of new biomarkers in sewage with focus on new psychoactive substances and new biomarkers for the community assessment of factors such as environment, health, lifestyle and diet, and integrate wastewater-based approaches with other available metrics.