The Population Health Chemistry group conducts research in the field of wastewater-based epidemiology.  The focus is on the development of analytical methods to detect compounds of interest in wastewater, with particular emphasis on psychoactive substances with abuse potential.  These include stimulants (e.g. methamphetamine, MDMA, cocaine), opioids (heroin, as well as pharmaceutical opioids such as codeine, morphine, fentanyl, oxycodone, methadone and buprenorphine), alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and New Psychoactive Substances which are designed to mimic the effect of banned drugs.

Our group has some of the latest generation spectrometers for detecting drug residues at trace levels and we have vast experience isolating and detecting chemicals in wastewater.  Our methods have been tested against international benchmarks through our successful participation in the Sewage Analysis Core European group (SCORE) interlaboratory testing initiative and our results are included on the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction website on global drug use patterns.

The research group has been doing wastewater analysis for the South Australian Health Dept. for the past 10 years, reporting on a weekly sampling campaign every two months.  We partner with the Queensland Alliance for Environmental Health Science to produce 3 annual National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Reports for the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, the most comprehensive population-scale study of drug use patterns globally.  The findings in these reports are used to produce other research outputs, such as peer-reviewed journal articles and conference presentations.  Our group engages actively with the international wastewater-based epidemiology community as well as forensic laboratories.