Imagine you could let your city urinate in a cup and submit the sample to a laboratory for drug testing. Would it pass?
Researchers in Europe did something similar with 42 major cities, and many of them failed.
Lab tests on sewage water to detect chemicals excreted after drug use turned up high levels of cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, meth and other amphetamines.
The scientists’ results, published this week in the journal Addiction, read like a top 10 list of European party capitals.
Some of them should come as no surprise to experienced travelers.
Amsterdam in the Netherlands, for example, where smoking cannabis is tolerated — though not legal — in its trademark coffee shops, hovered near the top of the list in every category but meth.
The port city, also saddled with the reputation of a red-light district hub, took second place in levels of ecstasy excretions found in wastewater, according to the study led by the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology.
As for cannabis, a lesser-known town bumped Amsterdam to second place.
The top spot for traces of pot in wastewater went to the Serbian city of Novi Sad, population 265,000. Paris came in third.