2nd International Conference Testing the Waters 2015 a tremendous success

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), SEWPROF, SCORE, and Eawag organised the second International Conference Testing the Waters 2015 at the conference centre Congressi Stefano Franscini, at Monte Verità, Ascona above Lago Maggiore, in Switzerland (11-15 October 2015) .


Conference Themes

  • Monitoring Studies: targeted sampling at local, regional, national and international scale, preferably integrating wastewater results with other epidemiological data.
  • Methodological Improvements: quantifying and reducing uncertainty of back-calculation, monitoring design and in-sewer transformation.
  • Advances in Analytical Chemistry: method refinements and ability to measure new substances.
  • Ethical and Legal Aspects: discussion of settings requiring special attention.
  • Innovative Applications: wastewater analysis for community-wide health assessment beyond illicit drugs.

The conference proved to be a tremendous success. All ERs and ESRs from SEWPROF ITN gave oral presentations on their research.

SEWPROF ITN meets in Castellon, Spain

SEWPROF Training Event, 29-30 April 2015


The participants were welcomed by Félix Hernández at University Jaume I in Castellón, Spain. After a brief introduction about the university and the program, the training school began.

Day 1 was focussed on method validation with an emphasis on chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry and included 6 lectures and 2 group activities.

Adrian Covaci (University of Antwerp) presented the validation of quantitative LC-MS/MS methods. Tania Portoles (University Jaume I) continued with the validation of qualitative methods, while Lubertus Bijlsma (University Jaume I) outlined the quantification, identification and confirmation of licit and illicit drugs in sewage analysis.

Jose Benito Quintana (University of Santiago de Compostela) gave a lecture on the estimation of limits of quantification and detection in sewage analysis and Juan V. Sancho (University Jaume I) provided examples of GC (APCI)-MS (MS/MS QqQ, QTOF MS) in environmental analytical chemistry. Finally, Leon Barron (King’s College London) explained the use of retention time prediction as a tool to improve the quality of large screening.

The afternoon sessions consisted of two group activities. Maria Ibáñez (University Jaume I) demonstrated how to treat HRMS data and Christoph Ruttkies (Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry) on the use of MetFrag and MetFusion software in the identification process of suspect and non-target analyses.

Day 2 was focussed on Quality Control and Quality Assurance.

Nuria Font (IPROMA) explained quality control in accredited environmental laboratories. Malcolm Reid (Norwegian Institute for Water Research, NIVA) and Pim de Voogt (KWR Watercycle Research Institute) explained the ongoing European-wide inter-laboratory testing. Félix Hernández (University Jaume I) explained about having a GLP-certified laboratory in a university environment. Ettore Zuccato (Mario Negri Institute) gave a lecture on ethical research guidelines

After the lectures, the current state and challenges in wastewater-based epidemiology discussed by a round table panel comprising John Ramsey (TICTAC), Kevin V. Thomas (Norwegian Institute for Water Research, NIVA), Juan V. Sancho (University Jaume I) and Sara Castiglioni (Mario Negri Institute).

In the afternoon an additional special session on opportunities for EU funding and access to the job market was made, with various members of start-up companies within ESPAITEC giving their initial experiences of the job market. Finally, Gillian Overend (University of Bath) gave a brief insight into EU and international funding opportunities.

SEWPROF ITN meets in Milan

SEWPROF: Fourth Training school 17-18 September Milan

The fourth SEWPROF Training School took place on 17-18 September 2014 at the Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, Milan, Italy. Title of the Course: “Assessing human health and lifestyle by sewage epidemiology”

Here you can find the program (PDF) and the minutes (PDF) also shown below. This course was co-organised together with the EU-funded COST network action ES1307  named  SCORE

Welcome to participants

The participants were welcomed by Sara Castiglioni and Ettore Zuccato at the Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, in Milan. A brief introduction about the Institute research activity and the topics of Training School was given by Sara Castiglioni.

Milan 1

First Day “Molecular toxicology and human pharmacokinetics (including substance misuse)”

The first day activity was focused on pharmacokinetic and toxicology related to substance misuse and eight lectures were given.

Firstly, Jane Mounteney (European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction) presented the latest trends and developments in Europe’s drug situation and the responses which are being implemented. Jorgen Bramness (University of Oslo) lectures were focused on pharmacology and pharmaco-epidemiology of prescription drugs (such as antipsychotic drugs) with abuse potentials. Markus Meyer (University of Saarland) presented an overview of pharmacokinetic processes and focused on new tools to perform studies on drugs (and new drugs) metabolism. Barbara Karsprzyk-Hordern (university of Bath) gave a lecture on the pharmacokinetic relevance of enantiomeric profiling of chiral drugs in wastewater-based epidemiology and Christoph Ort (Eawag-Aquatic Research) on the current approaches used to estimate the number of inhabitants served by a sewage treatment plant and population dynamic (this lecture was scheduled originally for the second day, but it was anticipated for logistic reasons).

Finally, after lunch Luigi Cervo (Mario Negri Institute) presented several examples of long-lasting neuroplastic changes related to drug abuse and Sara Castiglioni (Mario Negri Institute) showed how pharmacokinetic studies can be used to identify potential environmental contaminants.

Milan 2Milan 3

The afternoon was dedicated to visit the Wastewater Treatment Plant of Milano Nosedo, the biggest treatment plant in Milan that collects 50% of urban wastewater from the city.

Second day “Epidemiology (key topics: pharmaco-epidemiology, sewage epidemiology)”

The second day activity was focused on epidemiology and particularly on wastewater-based epidemiology and five lectures were given. Ettore Zuccato (Mario Negri Institute) described the sewage epidemiology approach including potentials, limitations and new applications. Caleb Banta-Green (University of Washington) presented how wastewater testing can be used for drug epidemiology and public health interventions and Sara Castiglioni (Mario Negri Institute) gave an overview of the applications of sewage epidemiology to estimate drug consumption in different communitiespublished so far. Malcolm Reid (Norvegian Institute of Water Research) showed a new application of wastewater-based epidemiology to monitor alcohol consumption in a community and Renzo Bagnati (Mario Negri Institute) how steroids in wastewater can be used as markers of abuse.

Group Activity. The activity consisted in an exercise to estimate the use of a substance in different case studies including specific evaluation of sampling, pharmacokinetic profile of the substance and back-calculation of consumption. Each group voted a rapporteur and the results were shared in a final common presentation and discussion.

Testing the Waters 2015 Conference on wastewater-based drug epidemiology – announcement

It is with great pleasure that we announce the upcoming conference Testing the Waters 2015 on wastewater-based drug epidemiology. Please find attached the call for abstracts and additional information. This includes a tentative programme and a detailed description of the five themes. Besides keynotes and plenary presentations, a poster session (with flash presentations) and workshops will provide ample opportunity for intensive exchange and discussions on this trans-disciplinary research field and application thereof. Monte Verità (Ascona, Switzerland) above Lago Maggiore is a conference centre and hotel. It is our aim to accommodate as many participants as possible on site this beautiful location (see details that will be available at a later stage on the conference website).

Testing the Waters 2015 – announcement

Testing the Waters 2015 – additional information

Date:   11-15 October 2015

Deadline for abstracts:   24 April 2015

Venue:   Monte Verità (Ascona, Switzerland)

Supported by:   Congressi Stefano Franscini (ETH Zurich), SCORE (COST Action  ES1307), SEWPROF (EU Marie Curie ITN), EMCDDA, and Eawag.

Further information:   www.testingthewaters2015.ch

Contact:   testingthewaters2015@demariaevent.ch

SEWPROF ITN meets again, this time in Nieuwegein, The Netherlands

Picture: P. de Voogt

Utrecht2Picture: P. de Voogt

Last April the members of SEWPROF met again, this time in the small village of Nieuwegein, the home base of KWR Watercycle Research Institute in the middle of The Netherlands. On the 9th of April, the half yearly board meeting was held (see pictures). On April 10th and 11th the third training course was held. The meeting started by morning sessions with brief updates from all ESRs and ERs. The rest of the programme focused on mass spectrometric detection techniques on the first day, whereas the second day was dedicated to biological aspects including biosensing, PCR and toxicology of illicit drugs, starring some very interesting guest speakers

The aspect of team building was not forgotten. While enjoying some rather unusual (for The Netherlands) nice weather that allowed walking outdoors, excursions were made to:

Drinking Water Treatment Plant of Waternet   (picture: E. Emke)

Drinking Water Treatment Plant of Waternet (picture: E. Emke)

1) The drinking water treatment plant of Waternet, that uses surface water from the river Rhine. The use of automated biosentinels was demonstrated that continuously monitor the quality of the inlet water using daphnids and algae.2) The main locks of the Amsterdam-Rhine canal and the old centre of the former village of Vreeswijk with its pound locks, where a typical Dutch pannenkoeken lunch was enjoyed.

Marie Mardal, the ESR Representative said: ‘It was interesting, as always, to hear how the work of the other research groups was coming along, and share and discuss obstacles and successes. When we have such different angles on the project, these training courses are crucial to ensure we use everyone’s expertise optimal and support each other in making good, scientific decisions leading to excellent research. The speakers gave some very interesting talks on subjects relevant to the field of sewage profiling, but also background knowledge in other scientific fields, that we could use in our research.’

SEWPROF researchers (picture: E. Emke)

SEWPROF researchers (picture: E. Emke)

SEWPROF ITN meets in Oslo

Training day participants

Training day participants

Key challenges in the sampling and analysis was the focus of the second SEWPROF training event that took place in Oslo on Monday 9 and Tuesday 10 September 2013. The aim of the event was to provide the early stage researchers with an understanding of the different factors that may influence the quality of their raw data and how important this aspect is with regards wastewater analysis.

The first day focused on the different aspects around wastewater sampling and sample handling, including practical and theoretical approaches. Day 2 started with a site visit to VEAS wastewater treatment works where the researchers were told about the history of the plant, how wastewater is collected and transported to the plant and how it is treated before discharge into the Oslofjord.

Students visiting VEAS

Students visiting VEAS

For some early stage researchers, this was their first visit to a treatment plant and an insight into the scale of operation when treating the wastewater from a large city. Following lunch the researchers gave presentations of their individual projects and discussed the interactions and possible synergies with other partners.

Marie Mardal, SEWPROF’s Early Stage Career Researcher and ESRs’ representative to SEWPROF Supervisory Board said: “ESRs found a better understanding of what our respective projects were about and what possible collaborations we could make within the network, particularly for our secondments. There were plenty of opportunities to discuss with and learn from researchers who are more experienced within this field of research. We were given feedback from researchers working with complementary angles on the project, making us think of our research from new perspectives and keeping us within the frames of the project.”



SEWPROF ITN meets for the first time in the city of Bath

DiscussionsThe first SEWPROF training event took place in Bath on Monday 22 – Wednesday 24 April 2013. The three day event, entitled ‘Human Health and the Environment’, provided an excellent opportunity for early stage career researchers to interact and to engage with key themes within the context of the network.

The first day focused on the ‘Urban Water Cycle’. The key challenges including fate of micro-pollutants (illicit drugs and pharmaceuticals) in the aqueous environment, during wastewater treatment and in drinking water were discussed. During the second day themed ‘Hazardous Substances and Human Health’ human exposure and risks from environmental and food toxicants were evaluated. The third day entitled ‘New Synthetic Drugs of Abuse’ provided an overview of the patterns of use of new psychoactive drugs in the UK and Europe.

The participants also attended the skills training sessions ‘Knowledge and Intellectual Abilities: Creative and Critical Thinking’ and team building activities, which focused on the development and prioritisation of key ideas and subsequent presentation.

The whole SEWPROF team