By Peter Chawaga
The wastewater in a large Louisiana city has been found to be harboring a concerningly high concentration of a dangerous drug.
“A shocking discovery in Shreveport’s wastewater reveals high levels of methamphetamine,” the Shreveport Times reported. “Following a recent wastewater toxicology test, Dr. Nicholas Goeders (of) LSU Health Shreveport discovered that Shreveport’s wastewater had twice the amount of methamphetamine levels compared to other areas of the United States.”
Wastewater monitoring is an increasingly-prevalent method for assessing the health of communities around the country, particularly in efforts to prevent the spread of viruses like COVID-19, monkeypox, and polio. Studies like Dr. Goeders’ can further expand the use of wastewater analysis to aid community health.
“‘I’ve been able to talk to people who, at one point in their lives had been selling methamphetamine. And they’ve told me, Doc, you would be surprised at how many people are using meth and it’s people like doctors, lawyers and nurses,’” Goeders told the Times. “These conversations prompted him to learn more about the community through testing and research.”
Dr. Goedert struck an agreement with the City of Shreveport to test wastewater samples over one year, using a method leveraged by researchers in Australia. The results have prompted him to raise alarms about how such prevalent methamphetamine levels might be impacting the environment.
“We’re only measuring what is used in Shreveport that goes down into the sewer system,” he told KSLA. “But think about the rural communities, they use septic tanks and the purified water they have is sprayed onto their lawns… I don’t know how much meth is out there. It could be that it’s getting into the soil, it could be getting into our lakes.”
Now that wastewater analysis has uncovered this startling level of contamination, additional studies may soon follow.
To read more about how treatment professionals leverage wastewater analysis to protect community health, visit Water Online’s Wastewater Measurement Solutions Center.