Wastewater Testing For Drugs

Wastewater Surveillance Testing

Safework Health is also the only commercial laboratory in Australia that conducts wastewater surveillance testing.

Our wastewater testing service can provide you with valuable insights into possible drug use in your organisation.

We screen for traces of drugs and alcohol in wastewater samples to find evidence of substance abuse.

The benefits of wastewater testing for drugs include:

  • Provides reliable and objective chemical data
  • Estimates drug use without relying on self-reporting
  • Captures drug use in the population of a catchment area in real-time.

What is wastewater testing?

Wastewater monitoring was originally a process of screening liquid waste (greywater) from households and communities for substances that might be harmful to the environment. It was quickly realised that wastewater monitoring is even more useful in measuring the drugs taken by the population in a particular catchment area.

Regulators primarily use wastewater analysis to study trends in illicit drug use in urban settings, including small communities and workplaces.

Wastewater surveillance testing involves sampling a source of greywater and estimating the quantity of drugs consumed by a defined community. Researchers measure the levels of illicit drugs and their metabolites found in urine that end up in wastewater.

What are the benefits of wastewater analysis?

Wastewater analysis offers an efficient way of gathering objective and reliable chemical data on drug use in a given catchment. The results are not subject to the response bias we get in questionnaires, and the process reveals the true spectrum and amount of drugs being consumed in a particular area. This is important since users are often unaware of the actual mix they take, and on-site testing will not capture every user.

Through greywater testing, researchers can collect information on trends almost in real-time. With these results, they can measure the effectiveness of drug use intervention strategies in the workplace, by retesting a site after new drug policies had been put in place.

Wastewater analysis also provides better monitoring of changes in illicit drug use trends. Researchers can use it to detect fluctuations in weekly patterns.

For example, some testing sites in urban areas may show higher cocaine metabolites and ecstasy loads on certain days. This could occur during or just after weekends and holidays. Meanwhile, other areas may show even distributions of amphetamine and methamphetamine loads throughout an entire week.

About Safework Health’s wastewater testing service

Wastewater testing allows you to find out if a member of your staff is abusing drugs. It can also reveal the specific drugs your employees might be consuming.

Once you have an idea of the scope of substance use in your company, you can implement a workplace drug and alcohol testing program. Our drug and alcohol testing programs can help you identify who among your workers might be suffering from substance abuse. 

Through our wastewater testing service, you can also identify how effective your workplace drug use intervention strategies are. We can help pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of your programs, so you can implement changes where necessary.

What drugs are detected?

Our wastewater testing service can detect a wide range of illicit drugs typically abused by users. These include:

Testing for cannabis is problematic because the active ingredient in cannabis, THC, is a very sticky molecule and is easily adsorbed on pipe and surfaces (the exact level will depend on the site) – so it is not possible to match the level present with the average use per person.

Test results are typically available within two to three weeks after we receive the wastewater samples. However, the testing period will depend on the intensive requirements for the data being analysed. For instance, fractionating data for subsite analysis and multisite comparisons often increases the total analysis time.

National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program

The National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program, funded by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, regularly releases regular reports on illicit and potentially misused drug trends detected in wastewater.

These reports provide valuable information about the types of drugs being consumed, their prevalence, and any changes in usage patterns over time.

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Enquire now to learn more about our wastewater testing services.


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