Prevalence of Synthetic Opioids, Cathinones, and Cannabinoids in Four U.S. Communities

Project Abstract

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, a new analytical method capable of simultaneous determination of trace-level forty NPS residues (synthetic opioids, cannabinoids, cathinones, piperazines, indole, and amphetamine) in wastewater was developed and validated. The developed analytical method was utilized to determine the prevalence of NPSs in four rural communities in southern Illinois. Nine NPSs (carfentanil, furanyl fentanyl, methoxyacetyl fentanyl, MAB-CHMINACA, methcathinone, 4-methyl pentedrone, MMMP, mCPP, and 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 prevalence of NPSs including synthetic opioids, cannabinoids, cathinones, and piperazines in the U.S. communities. In addition, the daily prevalence of gabapentin, an anticonvulsant, in four communities ranged from 8.32 ± 0.87 to 40.6 ± 1.1 doses/1000 people.


Conference name (full, no abbreviations): 2020 American Chemical Society National Meeting & Expo

Dates: March 23-25, 2020

Sponsoring body: American Chemical Society

Conference website:

Funding Type

Travel Grant

Academic College

Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology




Bachelor's in Chemistry




Dr. Bikram Subedi

Academic College

Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology

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