Amsterdam wastewater has highest concentration of ecstasy in Europe

Amsterdam wastewater has highest concentration of ecstasy in Europe

According to a wastewater analysis conducted by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), of all the European cities, Amsterdam has the highest concentration of ecstasy residue in its sewage water.

EMCDDA wastewater analysis

In their analysis, the EMCDDA tested the wastewater in 56 cities belonging to 19 European countries. A standard protocol was used in the research, which makes it possible to compare the results across the countries analysed.

The sewage water was tested for drug traces of methamphetamines, amphetamines, MDMA and cocaine. Such tests allow one to quantify the consumption of drugs in the population because traces are excreted through urine.  

The EMCDDA has regularly been carrying out research testing the amount of drug residue in wastewater, the first analysis of which was executed in 2011. Since the first analysis, the EMCDDA has conducted seven analyses, the last of which being in 2017.

Wastewater results

According to the latest research results, Amsterdam has the more ecstasy residue in its sewage water than any other European country and city analysed. The city of Eindhoven places second in the study when it comes to ecstasy traces in wastewater.

Additionally, Amsterdam’s wastewater also has high concentrations of cocaine, putting it in seventh place, with Eindhoven not too far behind in 13th place. Cocaine traces were the highest in western and southern European cities, particularly in cities found in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK.

Eindhoven takes the top spot in Europe for the amount of amphetamines in its sewage water. For this same drug, Amsterdam comes in 10th.

Drug dumping in the Netherlands

According to Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction, Trimbos Institute, there has been a clear increase in ecstasy residue in wastewater in Amsterdam and Eindhoven since 2011. The increase may partly be due to the higher levels of MDMA per ecstasy pill nowadays, but it may also be due to dumping.

When it comes to Amsterdam, Trimbos poses that the increase could be due to drugs tourism, but dumping is also a possibility. In the EMCDDA analysis, no distinction is made between whether the drug traces in sewage water are from human consumption or the dumping of drug waste when producing such substances.

Eindhoven is situated in an area where great quantities of ecstasy and amphetamines are produced. It is therefore possible that the high quantities of drug traces in wastewater in Eindhoven are down to dumping.

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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Pedro Oliveira 13:45 | 14 March 2018

Hi Mina! A link to the original article would be great :)

minasolanki 14:02 | 14 March 2018

Hi Pedro, I used many sources, but please see take a look at the EMCDDA report here: Many thanks, Mina