Publications by authors named "Tim Boogaerts"

5 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Changes in drug use in European cities during early COVID-19 lockdowns - A snapshot from wastewater analysis.

Environ Int 2021 Mar 26;153:106540. Epub 2021 Mar 26.

Environmental and Public Health Analytical Chemistry, Research Institute for Pesticides and Water, University Jaume I, Castellón, Spain; Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Electronic address:

The COVID-19 outbreak has forced countries to introduce severe restrictive measures to contain its spread. In particular, physical distancing and restriction of movement have had important consequences on human behaviour and potentially also on illicit drug use and supply. These changes can be associated with additional risks for users, in particular due to reduced access to prevention and harm reduction activities. Furthermore, there have been limitations in the amount of data about drug use which can be collected due to restrictions. To goal of this study was to obtain information about potential changes in illicit drug use impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. Wastewater samples were collected in seven cities in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Italy at the beginning of lockdowns (March-May 2020). Using previously established and validated methods, levels of amphetamine (AMP), methamphetamine (METH), MDMA, benzoylecgonine (BE, the main metabolite of cocaine) and 11-nor-9-carboxy-Δ-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC-COOH, main metabolite of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)) were measured and compared with findings from previous years. Important differences in levels of consumed drugs were observed across the considered countries. Whilst for some substances and locations, marked decreases in consumption could be observed (e.g., 50% decrease in MDMA levels compared to previous years). In some cases, similar or even higher levels compared to previous years could be found. Changes in weekly patterns were also observed, however these were not clearly defined for all locations and/or substances. Findings confirm that the current situation is highly heterogeneous and that it remains very difficult to explain and/or predict the effect that the present pandemic has on illicit drug use and availability. However, given the current difficulty in obtaining data due to restrictions, wastewater analysis can provide relevant information about the situation at the local level, which would be hard to obtain otherwise.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2021.106540DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7997602PMC
March 2021

Application of wastewater-based epidemiology to investigate stimulant drug, alcohol and tobacco use in Lithuanian communities.

Sci Total Environ 2021 Feb 19;777:145914. Epub 2021 Feb 19.

Toxicological Centre, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, 2610 Antwerp, Belgium. Electronic address:

WBE was applied to evaluate illicit drug (i.e. amphetamine, cocaine, MDMA and methamphetamine), alcohol and tobacco use in three Lithuanian cities in 2018 and 2019. Considerable concentrations of methamphetamine and MDMA were found in the three locations, suggesting a specific Lithuanian consumption pattern. Yet, unexpected high concentrations of amphetamine (>4 μg/L) were detected in two samples of Kaunas in 2018. Through the use of chiral analysis and non-target and suspect drug precursor compound screening, these extreme values were confirmed to be the result of direct disposal of amphetamine in the sewers. Furthermore, substantial alcohol use was measured in the three investigated catchment populations of Lithuania with almost 4 standard drinks/day/inhabitant aged 15+ on average in 2019. For tobacco, an average of 5.6 cigarettes/day/inhabitant aged 15+ in 2019 was reported with large discrepancies between WBE figures and sales data, potentially highlighting illegal trade of tobacco products.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.145914DOI Listing
February 2021

Development and validation of an analytical procedure to detect spatio-temporal differences in antidepressant use through a wastewater-based approach.

Talanta 2019 Aug 15;200:340-349. Epub 2019 Mar 15.

Toxicological Centre, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, 2610 Antwerp, Belgium. Electronic address:

Wastewater-based epidemiology applies the analysis of human metabolic excretion products of xenobiotics in wastewater to estimate the community-wide use of these compounds. A new bioanalytical method was developed, optimised and validated for the analysis of a broad range of antidepressants and their metabolites at trace concentrations in influent wastewater. The assay was based on solid-phase extraction and liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry. For most compounds, Oasis® HLB cartridges were used for sample preparation. Oasis® MCX cartridges were used for extraction of normirtazapine, moclobemide, sertraline, and melitracen in particular. The Kinetex XBC18 column with a gradient elution resulted in appropriate separation for the analytes under investigation. Validation was done according to the European Medicines Agency guidelines on bioanalytical method validation. For 27 compounds, the performance criteria met the requirements for method validation. For these analytes, the lower limit of quantification (LLOQ) ranged between 1 and 25 ng/L. Furthermore, all targeted biomarkers showed high in-sample stability during 24 h, with the exception of mianserin. The validated assay was applied to influent wastewater samples collected from four wastewater treatment plants in Belgium. Among these four locations, a total of 18 out of 27 biomarkers for antidepressant use were present in the samples in concentrations above the LLOQ. Additionally, the proposed methodology proved capable of analysing high resolution spatio-temporal trends. Mann-Kendall trend analyses showed that antidepressant use is stable throughout the week, except for trazodone which increased throughout the week.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.talanta.2019.03.052DOI Listing
August 2019

Investigating in-sewer transformation products formed from synthetic cathinones and phenethylamines using liquid chromatography coupled to quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry.

Sci Total Environ 2018 Sep 6;634:331-340. Epub 2018 Apr 6.

Toxicological Center, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Campus Drie Eiken, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, 2610 Antwerp, Belgium.

Recent studies have demonstrated the role of biofilms on the stability of drug residues in wastewater. These factors are pertinent in wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) when estimating community-level drug use. However, there is scarce information on the biotransformation of drug residues in the presence of biofilms and the potential use of transformation products (TPs) as biomarkers in WBE. The purpose of this work was to investigate the formation of TPs in sewage reactors in the presence of biofilm mimicking conditions during in-sewer transport. Synthetic cathinones (methylenedioxypyrovalerone, methylone, mephedrone) and phenethylamines (4-methoxy-methamphetamine and 4-methoxyamphetamine) were incubated in individual reactors over a 24h period. Analysis of parent species and TPs was carried out using liquid chromatography coupled to quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (LC-QToFMS). Identification of TPs was done using suspect and non-target workflows. In total, 18 TPs were detected and identified with reduction of β-keto group, demethylenation, demethylation, and hydroxylation reactions observed for the synthetic cathinones. For the phenethylamines, N- and O-demethylation reactions were identified. Overall, the experiments showed varying stability for the parent species in wastewater in the presence of biofilms. The newly identified isomeric forms of TPs particularly for methylone and mephedrone can be used as potential target biomarkers for WBE studies due to their specificity and detectability within a 24h residence time.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.03.253DOI Listing
September 2018

Spatial and temporal trends in alcohol consumption in Belgian cities: A wastewater-based approach.

Drug Alcohol Depend 2016 Mar 14;160:170-6. Epub 2016 Jan 14.

Toxicological Centre, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Antwerp (UA), Universiteitsplein 1, 2610 Antwerp, Belgium. Electronic address:

Background: In recent years, scientific evidence has emerged that wastewater-based epidemiology can deliver complementary information concerning the use of different substances of abuse. In this study, the potential of wastewater-based epidemiology in monitoring spatial and temporal trends in alcohol consumption in different populations in Belgium has been examined.

Methods: Concentrations of ethyl sulphate, a minor Phase-II metabolite of ethanol, in 163 influent wastewater samples from eight wastewater treatment plants in Belgium in the period 2013-2015 were measured with liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry and used to estimate alcohol consumption.

Results: The highest levels of alcohol consumption were detected in the metropoles Antwerp and Brussels compared to smaller villages. Annual variations were detected, with a higher alcohol consumption measured in 2013 compared with 2014. The weekly pattern showed a clear week and weekend difference in alcohol use, with intermediate levels on Monday and Friday. The results were extrapolated and a use of 5.6L pure alcohol per year per inhabitant aged 15+ has been estimated in Belgium. The comparison with available information on drinking habits of the Belgian population further demonstrated the usefulness of the wastewater-based epidemiology approach.

Conclusions: This is the largest wastewater-based epidemiology study monitoring alcohol consumption to date, demonstrating that objective and quick information on spatio-temporal trends in alcohol consumption on a local and (inter)national scale can be obtained.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2016.01.002DOI Listing
March 2016