Through the chemical analysis of wastewater it has been shown that the highly dangerous weight loss agent DNP is used by amateur athletes during sport events. These results have recently been published by researchers of the UvA Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics in the scientific journal Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry.
DNP stands for 2,4-dintrophenol and is known in bodybuilding as a product that can help to quickly lose body weight, but that also has a serious public health risk. DNP is therefore seen as a highly dangerous weight loss agent. Recent more traditional research through questionnaires has shown that the use of so called IPED (Image Performance Enhancing Drugs) is widespread. Chemical analysis of sewer water is an excellent tool to support the outcome of this research with strong quantitative figures.
The chemical analysis of wastewater is rapidly developing into a discipline that can analyze in near-real-time the trends in the use of drugs and other substances by citizens. Pim de Voogt, professor of Chemical-Biological Interactions in Aquatic Ecosystems at UvA, therefore refers to this wastewater based epidemiology as a ‘societal mirror’: ‘By sampling the influent of a sewage treatment plant the researchers are able to calculate, on the basis of the concentration of drugs or their conversion products that end up in urine and thus in sewage water, the total load of drugs in a city.’
To quantitate the use of DNP, a team of researchers consisting of de Voogt, UvA PhD candidate Ana Causanilles and colleagues from KWR Watercycle Research Institute and the Dutch Anti-doping Authority, analyzed wastewater that was sampled during sport events. Through the chemical analysis of wastewater they showed that the DNP load in wastewater influent increased by a factor of between 10 to 100 times during the amateur sport events monitored. These findings were published in a scientific paper entitled ‘Wastewater-based tracing of doping use by the general population and amateur athletes’, and confirmed the use of highly dangerous fat-burner DNP by amateur athletes during sport events.
Causanilles, A., V. Nordmann, D. Vughs, E. Emke, O. de Hon, F. Hernández, P. de Voogt (2018). Wastewater-based tracing of doping use by the general population and amateur athletes. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 410(6): 1793-1803.