Changes in Alcohol Consumption Associated With Social Distancing and Self‐Isolation Policies Triggered by COVID‐19 in South Australia: A Wastewater Analysis Study
To assess the effects of social distancing and social isolation policies triggered by COVID‐19 on alcohol consumption using wastewater analysis in Adelaide, South Australia
Longitudinal quantitative analysis of influent wastewater data for alcohol concentration.
Adelaide, South Australia
Wastewater catchment area representative of 1.1 million inhabitants
Twenty‐four‐hour composite influent wastewater samples were collected from four wastewater treatment plants in Adelaide, South Australia for seven consecutive days (Wednesday – Tuesday) every two months from April 2016 – April 2020. The alcohol metabolite ethyl sulfate was measured in samples using chromatography‐tandem mass spectrometry. Data were population‐weighted adjusted with consumption expressed as standard units of alcohol/day/1000 people. Weekly consumption and weekend to mid‐week consumption ratios were analysed to identify changes in weekday alcohol use pattern.
Estimated weekend alcohol consumption was significantly lower (698 standard units of alcohol/day/1000 people) after self‐isolation measures were enforced in April 2020 compared with the preceding sampling period in February 2020 (1047 units of alcohol/day/1000 people), p<0.05. Weekend to midweek consumption ratio was 12% lower than the average ratio compared with all previous sampling periods. April 2020 recorded the lowest alcohol consumption relative to April in previous years, dating back to 2016.
Wastewater analysis suggests that introduction of social distancing and isolation policies triggered by COVID‐19 in Adelaide, South Australia, was associated with a decrease in population‐level weekend alcohol consumption.