Wastewater analysis for new psychoactive substances and cocaine and cannabis in a Northern Ireland Prison

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Sci Rep. 2023 Oct 30;13(1):18634. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-44453-4.


The global drug market has been significantly impacted by the emergence of new psychoactive substances, leading to challenges in creating effective legislative controls and their use within recreational drug consumption. This research explores the prevalence of new psychoactive substances and non-medicinal and medicinal compounds within a prison facility in Northern Ireland. Wastewater samples collected from seven different manholes within the prison were analysed for 37 target compounds including the two most found illicit substances: benzoylecgonine (primary metabolite of cocaine) and cannabis. Using solid phase extraction with Oasis HLB and liquid-chromatography-time-of-flight-mass spectrometry across a gradient of 9 min, our analysis revealed that benzoylecgonine was the sole compound consistently present in all collected samples. Following this finding, our target compound selection was broadened to encompass medicinal compounds and employing qualitative analysis we re-evaluated the samples and discovered the presence of buprenorphine, benzodiazepines, methadone, morphine, and codeine. Finally, the study explored the application of enzymatic beta-glucuronidase hydrolysis to the samples. This final phase yielded significant findings, indicating the presence of codeine and nordiazepam at higher peak intensities, thereby shedding light on the potential implications of this enzymatic process.

PMID:37903846 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-023-44453-4

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