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Wastewater analysis for estimating substance use: implications for law, policy and research

Prichard, J ORCID: 0000-0002-8481-7100, Lai, FY, van Dyken, E, Thai, P, Bruno, R ORCID: 0000-0001-6673-833X, Hall, W, Kirkbride, P, Gartner, C, O'Brien, J and Mueller, JM 2017 , 'Wastewater analysis for estimating substance use: implications for law, policy and research' , Journal of Law and Medicine, vol. 24, no. 4 , pp. 837-849 .

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This article seeks to encourage informed cross-disciplinary discourse about wastewater analysis (WWA) – a method of estimating substance use in very large populations through analysing samples of sewage water. The article examines Australia’s policy platform for responding to substance use, the National Drug Strategy (NDS). It then considers the evidence-base underpinning the NDS, particularly the metrics that are provided by national drug-monitoring systems. The article discusses the strengths of WWA and suggests the method could usefully augment existing monitoring systems. To demonstrate the flexibility, efficiency and scope of WWA, the article presents key findings from the first national WWA study, which encapsulated sewage samples from approximately 40% of the Australian population. Opportunities for WWA to inform time-sensitive issues in particular communities are explored. The article encourages health and criminal justice portfolios to engage with WWA to ensure that it is put to best effect for policy purposes.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Prichard, J and Lai, FY and van Dyken, E and Thai, P and Bruno, R and Hall, W and Kirkbride, P and Gartner, C and O'Brien, J and Mueller, JM
Keywords: wastewater analysis, drug, illicit, methamphetamine, consumption, use, community market
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Law and Medicine
Publisher: Lawbook Co.
ISSN: 1320-159X
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© 2018 Thomson Reuters (Professional) Australia Limited

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