Wastewater Fingerprinting - How healthy is your city?

2021-02-26 12:07:24

While the extent of pharmaceutical consumption within a society/community is of high relevance to its health, economy and general wellbeing, this data is often not readily available. Herein, we strengthen a wastewater–based epidemiology (WBE) approach as a way to track the consumption of pharmaceuticals within the sampled community.

The Barcelona case study within the SCOREwater project studies lifestyle habits and public health based on wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE). Wastewater is a rich source of biological and chemical information, which can be used as a surveillance system for (il)licit drugs, pharmaceutical consumption, antibiotic resistance, pollution, and infectious diseases spreads. WBE is a non-invasive, comprehensive unbiased and real-time approach to reflect community’s health and lifestyle habits, plus allows a higher temporal and spatial resolution than established questionnaire or databases approaches.

Research findings

Figure 1 | Graphical abstract

Until now, most WBE studies were focusing on (il)licit drug prevalence and consumption and only a handful of studies focused on pharmaceuticals. In our study (link to study) , we estimated pharmaceutical consumption by validating our findings with fine spatial prescription data from official health databases. We were able to reliably display not only the trends of consumption throughout the sampled community, but also showed for the first time that over-the-counter consumption of common pain killers can be estimated as well. A tool that can help building future smart cities, where we can monitor the consumption of pharmaceuticals and use such information, for example, in inter-city/intra-city health monitoring and targeted education campaigns regarding the correct use of pharmaceuticals. This holistic WBE approach generates data, which is crucial for governments, cities, and health sectors to identify communal health threats and strengthening the public awareness, of not only professionals but also throughout the community.

Nicole Simone Schröter | 26-02-2021