Jožef Stefan Institute publishes results of study on drug residues in wastewater from educational institutions

STA, October 1, 2021 – A study by a group of researchers from the Jožef Stefan Institute (Institute “Jožef Stefan” – IJS) determined the drug content in wastewater samples from Slovenian educational institutions. The results showed that nicotine, alcohol and cannabis were the most common drugs, while residues of morphine, codeine and cocaine were also detected.

Researchers from the Environmental Sciences Division of the Jožef Stefan Institute (IJS) used wastewater samples from primary and secondary schools and higher education establishments in Slovenia to conduct their study.

It aimed to determine the presence of metabolic products of legal drugs (nicotine and alcohol), drugs of abuse (morphine, codeine and methadone) and illegal drugs (cannabis, cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, ecstasy and heroin. ), the IJS said in a statement. Release.

The study focused on 44 educational institutions offering different levels of education, selected both in urban and non-urban areas in 7 Slovenian municipalities in 6 statistical regions.

The results on drug prevalence were compared by level of education, geographic location and level of urbanization.

The survey shows that nicotine, alcohol and cannabis are the most widely used drugs overall, with alcohol and cannabis having a comparable prevalence despite the difference in availability.

Among the drugs used, the researchers identified biomarkers of morphine and codeine, while the biomarkers of methadone were below the detection limit. Among the stimulants, cocaine was the most common.

Nicotine, alcohol, cannabis and cocaine were present in wastewater samples from educational institutions in the seven municipalities.

Meanwhile, biomarkers for all target drugs (except methadone and heroin) have only been identified in Ljubljana, according to the study.

The study also showed a correlation between cocaine use / availability and urbanization, while concurrent alcohol and cocaine use was only determined in samples from urban areas.

As IJS explains, the results indicate the presence of drugs that were not necessarily ingested in educational institutions because metabolic products of drugs take longer to be excreted in the urine.

In addition, the school environment is not only made up of students, but also teachers, support staff and visitors, who can also contribute to the presence of certain biomarkers in wastewater, said the IJS.

Learn more about the study (in Slovenian)

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