Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Publication Title

Occurrence and Mass Loading of Synthetic Opioids, Synthetic Cathinones, and Synthetic Cannabinoids in Wastewater Treatment Plants in Four U.S. Communities




Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology


A few new psychoactive substances (NPS) that mimic the effects of controlled neuropsychiatric and illicit drugs have been forensically identified in the U.S. Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) can provide a comprehensive and more cost- and time-effective method of determining the prevalence of NPSs in communities. In this study, an analytical method capable of simultaneous determination of trace-level 40 NPS residues (synthetic opioids, synthetic cannabinoids, synthetic cathinones, piperazines, indole, and amphetamine) in wastewater was developed and validated. The developed analytical method was utilized to determine the occurrence of NPSs in four rural communities in southern Illinois. Nine NPSs (carfentanil, furanyl fentanyl, methoxyacetyl fentanyl, MAB-CHMINACA, methcathinone, 4-methyl pentedrone, 2-methyl-4′-(methylthio)-2-morpholinopropiophenone (MMMP), 1-(3-chlorophenyl) piperazine (mCPP), and 5-(2-Aminopropyl) Indole (5IT) were quantified. Methcathinone was the most frequently detected NPS (detection frequency, df = 100%) followed closely by the MMMP and mCPP (df = 91%). The mass loading of methcathinone, mCPP, and 5-IT using ammoniacal nitrogen-based population were up to 21.1 ± 1.3 mg/d/1000 people, 15.0 ± 0.5 mg/d/1000 people, and 9.75 ± 2.72 mg/d/1000 people, respectively. This is the first study to determine the occurrence of NPSs including synthetic opioids, synthetic cannabinoids, synthetic cathinones, and piperazines in the U.S. communities.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.