A study of the wastewater shows how the inhabitants of Athens endured the first isolation. The indicators for smoking, medication, and the use of antiseptics were taken into account.
The EKPA study revealed a picture of the changing habits of the Athenians during the first isolation. The conclusions are presented in an article published in a scientific journal.
During the work, wastewater before the coronavirus and wastewater during the first quarantine were examined (Psyttalia Wastewater Treatment Center).
The samples were examined for thousands of organic contaminants using sophisticated analytical tools and computational programs.
Among the investigated substances, industrial substances (bisphenols, phthalates, polyfluorinated substances), surfactants, antimicrobial agents contained in antiseptic agents, plant protection chemicals, food additives, medicines (antidepressants) were taken into account.
The results of the EKPA study were impressive:
The substances contained in the detergents showed a vertical increase (surfactants by 196%, cationic surfactants of quaternary ammonium by 331%). Substances contained in antiseptics showed a vertical increase under quarantine conditions of + 152%. Industrial substances showed a significant drop (-52%), which is associated with the freezing of industrial production and, mainly, the chemical industry. Citizens were found to smoke less (-33%), possibly influenced by the media and early scientific research that smoking was associated with a higher risk of respiratory infections. Lockdown, at least in the first weeks, had a slight negative impact on the psychology of citizens (an increase in the amount of psychoactive substances by 20%). Mixed drug trends: a sharp decline in ecstasy use (the main reason for the closure of nightclubs), a sharp decline in heroin use, a slight decline in cannabis use, and an upward trend in the use of stimulant drugs such as amphetamine, methamphetamine and cocaine. The increased concentration of technical sweeteners and food additives is possibly related to the increased food intake due to being at home.
The article is entitled “Change in the chemical content of untreated wastewater of Athens, Greece under COVID-19 pandemic” and signed by researchers Nikiforos Aligizakis, Ekaterina Galani , Nikolaos Rusis, Reza Aalizade, Thanos Dimopoulos (Rector of EKPA) and Nikolaos Thomas.
The article was accepted for publication in the scientific journal Science of The Total Environment, which is one of the most prestigious environmental journals with global influence.