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Wastewater Epidemiology To Examine Stimulant Trends (weTEST)

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2020, $862,567)

The Wastewater Epidemiology To Examine Stimulant Trends (weTEST) project will implement a wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) approach for comprehensive, non-invasive monitoring of drug flows in communities in near real-time, effectively developing a novel drug surveillance strategy to identify specific stimulant drugs and their concentrations in samples taken from wastewater systems, and extrapolating to population-level use estimates. The approach applies analytical forensic chemistry methods to detect the use of both licit and illicit stimulants (cocaine, amphetamine, meth, and novel psychoactive substance stimulants), and can be modified to include new drug targets as emerging threats are identified. WBE will increase the understanding of the impact of large-scale law enforcement operations to reduce or remove drug threats within communities. WBE implementation in the U.S. lags behind many other countries by ~10 years, and large-scale statewide efforts will advance the application of this technology in the U.S. This project will support a coordinated strategy to: 1) build a robust wastewater surveillance system along traffic rest areas and facilities servicing truck drivers along interstate highways; 2) examine stimulant use trends in the populations using these facilities and traversing “hot spot” areas in a state; 3) compare rest area wastewater results to a municipal water system to examine the drug profile variability between roadways and community use; 4) compare wastewater results to other population-based drug use indicators (e.g., stimulants dispensed per state prescription drug monitoring program); and 5) leverage a collaboration between the Appalachian High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Murray State University, and the University of Kentucky. The project will analyze samples from 8 rest areas along major highways in Kentucky, and samples will be collected for 7 consecutive days every month for 1 year. This project will develop the most comprehensive set of wastewater samples anywhere in the U.S., and serve as a model for other jurisdictions to develop drug use metrics and indicators. Findings will be disseminated to public safety and health officials of state and federal government, scientific conferences (American Society of Criminology, National Rx Drug Abuse Summit, and American Chemical Society), peer-reviewed publications, and an international community through Sewage Analysis Core Group (SCORE) in Europe. Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law, and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14). CA/NCF

Date Created: September 16, 2020