Estimation of caffeine intake from analysis of caffeine metabolites in wastewater

Emma Gracia-Lor*, Nikolaos I. Rousis, Ettore Zuccato, Richard Bade, Jose Antonio Baz-Lomba, Erika Castrignanò, Ana Causanilles Llanes, Félix Hernández, Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern, Juliet Kinyua, Ann-Kathrin McCall, Alexander L. N. van Nuijs, Benedek G. Plósz, Pedram Ramin, Yeonsuk Ryu, Miguel M. Santos, Kevin V. Thomas, Pim de Voogt, Zhugen Yang, Sara Castiglioni

*Corresponding author for this work

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Caffeine metabolites in wastewater were investigated as potential biomarkers for assessing caffeine intake in a population. The main human urinary metabolites of caffeine were measured in the urban wastewater of ten European cities and the metabolic profiles in wastewater were compared with the human urinary excretion profile. A good match was found for 1,7-dimethyluric acid, an exclusive caffeine metabolite, suggesting that might be a suitable biomarker in wastewater for assessing population-level caffeine consumption. A correction factor was developed considering the percentage of excretion of this metabolite in humans, according to published pharmacokinetic studies. Daily caffeine intake estimated from wastewater analysis was compared with the average daily intake calculated from the average amount of coffee consumed by country per capita. Good agreement was found in some cities but further information is needed to standardize this approach. Wastewater analysis proved useful to providing additional local information on caffeine use.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Pages (from-to)1582-1588
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2017


  • 1,7-dimethyluric acid
  • Back-calculation
  • Caffeine
  • Correction factor
  • Urinary biomarkers
  • Wastewater-based epidemiology


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