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Measuring Italy's coke use through its sewage

James Kellerman

A very interesting way of measuring drug use. I am increasingly coming to believe that the data for anything is out there, you just have to find it. Measuring Italy's coke use through its sewage: David Pescovitz:
Researchers in Milan, Italy have analyzed sewage to estimate how many people in Italy's Po valley use Cocaine. The scientists from the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research tested river and sewage water for a cocaine byproduct pissed out by users of the drug. According to their data, 40,000 "doses" of cocaine are taken daily in the region. Official estimates say that "15,000 users admit to taking the drug at least once a month." From a press release about the study published in the scientific journal Environmental Health:
Ettore Zuccato, from the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milan, Italy, and colleagues tested a new tool to measure a cocaine residue called benzoylecgonine (BE), present in flowing river and sewage waters because it is excreted in the urine of cocaine users. The residue is a by-product of metabolism in the human body, and cannot be produced by other means. The researchers measured the levels of BE in the river Po and in the sewage water of medium-sized Italian cities. Their results show that the Po, the largest Italian river, with five million people living in its vicinity, steadily carried the equivalent of about 4 kg of cocaine per day.
Link Via boingboing

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