Spatial and temporal trends in alcohol consumption in Belgian cities : a wastewater-based approach
van Nuijs, Alexander L.N.
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences. Pharmacy
Drug and alcohol dependence. - Lausanne
, p. 170-176
University of Antwerp
Background: In recent years, scientific evidence has emerged that wastewater-based epidemiology can deliver complementary information concerning the use of different substances of abuse. In this study, the potential of wastewater-based epidemiology in monitoring spatial and temporal trends in alcohol consumption in different populations in Belgium has been examined. Methods: Concentrations of ethyl sulphate, a minor Phase-II metabolite of ethanol, in 163 influent wastewater samples from eight wastewater treatment plants in Belgium in the period 2013-2015 were measured with liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry and used to estimate alcohol consumption. Results: The highest levels of alcohol consumption were detected in the metropoles Antwerp and Brussels compared to smaller villages. Annual variations were detected, with a higher alcohol consumption measured in 2013 compared with 2014. The weekly pattern showed a clear week and weekend difference in alcohol use, with intermediate levels on Monday and Friday. The results were extrapolated and a use of 5.6 L pure alcohol per year per inhabitant aged 15+ has been estimated in Belgium. The comparison with available information on drinking habits of the Belgian population further demonstrated the usefulness of the wastewater-based epidemiology approach. Conclusions: This is the largest wastewater-based epidemiology study monitoring alcohol consumption to date, demonstrating that objective and quick information on spatio-temporal trends in alcohol consumption on a local and (inter)national scale can be obtained. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.