SEOUL, Aug. 5 (Korea Bizwire) — A research team at Pusan University recently reported the results of an investigation into the presence of drug residue at three sewage treatment plants near popular beaches.
Various drugs, including methamphetamine, were detected in sewage treatment plants near well-known beaches popular among vacationers. The research findings revealed that the quantity of detected drug components tends to increase during the peak season, with a jump of up to 2.4 times normal values at the sewage treatment plant near a well-known beach resort.
The research team, which was led by professor Jeong-eun Oh, conducted a drug residue investigation on samples collected from three sewage treatment plants in Busan from July to September 2013. According to the researchers, seven drugs, including methamphetamine, codeine, meperidine and cis-tramadol were detected.
The researchers collected samples from sewage treatment plants, as they considered that individuals might have just dumped drugs into the sewer, or the components may have flowed into the community sewage through the urine of drug users. To estimate total drug consumption by this method is called ‘sewage epidemiology’.
Based on the analysis, the research team assumed that the consumption of methamphetamine in each relevant area was at least 13.8mg per 1,000 people, up to a maximum of 31.89mg.
In the low season (December 2012), estimated daily dosage was 13.10mg per 1,000 people; however, it increased to 21.20mg in July, and peaked at 31.89mg in August. After the peak summer season, estimated consumption decreased to 17.88mg in September.
Methamphetamine is the most common drug in Korea. According to an earlier report from the same research team, national daily dosage was 22mg per 1,000 people and annual consumption reaches around 410kg. This means that the methamphetamine consumption in Korea is 19.5 times greater than the 21 kg that is seized on an annual basis, according to data from the 2012 White Paper on Drugs by the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office.