Whole Cities To Be Drug Tested
In what could be a breakthrough for researching long term drug use patterns for cities across the globe. Oregon State University researchers have developed a way to more effectively drug test whole cities by examining water from waste treatment facilities. Sound Orwellian? Not to worry. All of you "Users" out there wont have to start exclusively using your back yards quite yet. The tests only provide a snapshot of citywide drug intake and are not capable of examining individuals.
Initial research showed interesting findings, including fluctuations in nationwide Cocaine use that tended to be higher on weekends, drastically increased methamphetamine in urban areas as well as areas with a gambling industry, and decreased exctasy use during weekdays. Officials believe that citywide sampling will both be more effective at tracking actual drug trands and far more respectful of privacy than polling or individualized testing.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Researchers have figured out how to give an entire community a drug test using just a teaspoon of wastewater from a city's sewer plant.
The test wouldn't be used to finger any single person as a drug user. But it would help federal law enforcement and other agencies track the spread of dangerous drugs, like methamphetamines, across the country.
Oregon State University scientists tested 10 unnamed American cities for remnants of drugs, both legal and illegal, from wastewater streams. They were able to show that they could get a good snapshot of what people are taking.
"It's a community urinalysis," said Caleb Banta-Green, a University of Washington drug abuse researcher who was part of the Oregon State team. The scientists presented their results Tuesday at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston.
Two federal agencies have taken samples from U.S. waterways to see if drug testing a whole city is doable, but they haven't gotten as far as the Oregon researchers.
One of the early results of the new study showed big differences in methamphetamine use city to city. One urban area with a gambling industry had meth levels more than five times higher than other cities. Yet methamphetamine levels were virtually nonexistent in some smaller Midwestern locales, said Jennifer Field, the lead researcher and a professor of environmental toxicology at Oregon State.