Department Urban Water Management

In-Sewer Transormation of Illicit Drugs (SEWPROF)

As part of the European Marie Curie ITN “SEWPROF”, this PhD project focuses on the biotic and abiotic transformation processes of the illicit drugs during their transport in sewer networks. Ann-Kathrin investigates the role of sewer biofilms on the illicit drug transformation.

McCall, A.-K.; Bade, R.; Kinyua, J.; Lai, F. Y.; Thai, P. K.; Covaci, A.; Bijlsma, L.; van Nuijs, A. L. N.; Ort, C. (2016) Critical review on the stability of illicit drugs in sewers and wastewater samples, Water Research, 88, 933-947, doi:10.1016/j.watres.2015.10.040, Institutional Repository

In batch experiments with wastewater and sewer biofilms the influences of biological, chemical, and physical processes on the transformation of 30 illicit drugs and pharmaceuticals (or metabolites) were quantified. Rates varied among locations and over time which are published in a recent ES&T article.  

The current aim is to identify relevant variables to model drug transformation during in-sewer transport. This model will predict drug loss and uncertainty for different realistic scenarios (e.g., influence of catchment size, number of drug users).

Project description

SEWPROF:  “A new paradigm in drug use and human health risk assessment: Sewage profiling at the community level”. EU FP7, Marie Curie ITN (Initial Training Network, Grant agreement no.: 317205).


Dr. Christoph OrtGroup LeaderTel. +41 58 765 5277Send Mail