ChemRxiv
These are preliminary reports that have not been peer-reviewed. They should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or be reported in news media as established information. For more information, please see our FAQs.
1/1
2 files

Traffic, Drugs, Mental Health, and Disinfectants: Changes in Sewage Sludge Chemical Signatures During a COVID-19 Community Lockdown

preprint
submitted on 12.01.2021, 16:20 and posted on 13.01.2021, 12:32 by Sara Nason, Elizabeth Lin, Brian D. Eitzer, Jeremy P. Koelmel, Jordan Peccia

The COVID-19 pandemic and related shutdowns have caused changes in everyday activities for many people, and signs of those changes are present in the chemical signatures of sewage sludge produced during the pandemic. We analyzed primary sewage sludge samples from a wastewater treatment plant in New Haven, CT USA collected between March 19 and June 30, 2020. This time period encompassed the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the initial statewide stay at home order, and the first phase of reopening. We used liquid chromatography coupled with high resolution mass spectrometry and targeted and suspect screening strategies to identify contaminants in the sludge. We and found evidence of increasing opioid, cocaine, and antidepressant use, as well as upward trends in chemicals used in disinfectants and sunscreens during the study period. Benzotriazole, an anti-corrosion chemical associated with traffic pollution, decreased through the stay-at-home period, and increased during reopening. Hydroxychloroquine, a drug that received significant attention for its potential to treat COVID-19, had elevated concentrations in the week following the implementation of the United States Emergency Use Authorization. Our results directly relate to nationwide reports of increased demand for fentanyl, antidepressants, and other medications, as well as reports of increased drug overdose deaths during the pandemic. Though wastewater surveillance during the pandemic has largely focused on measuring SARS-CoV-2 RNA concentrations, chemical analysis can also show trends that are important for revealing the public and environmental health effects of the pandemic.

Funding

USDA NIFA Hatch funds (CONH00789)

History

Email Address of Submitting Author

sara.nason@ct.gov

Institution

Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

Country

United States

ORCID For Submitting Author

0000-0002-3866-6399

Declaration of Conflict of Interest

No conflicts of interest

Version Notes

Version uploaded January12, 2020

Licence

Exports

Logo branding

Licence

Exports