Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Big Brother Hits the Sewers

Drug tests have become an everyday occurrence of modern life, but there are a few of us left who manage to go unmonitored. No fear - researchers are working to solve that problem, sort of. Researchers from the University of Oregon have developed a system whereby they can drug test entire cities:

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.
Which cities were tested? They won't say, as it would "could harm [their] relationship with the sewage plant operators," not to mention the citizens spied upon.

The study did produce some interesting results:
She said that one fairly affluent community scored low for illicit drugs except for cocaine. Cocaine and ecstasy tended to peak on weekends and drop on weekdays, she said, while methamphetamine and prescription drugs were steady throughout the week.

Field said her study suggests that a key tool currently used by drug abuse researchers - self-reported drug questionnaires - underestimates drug use.
Of course, two federal government agencies are interested in this technology. The next phase of the War on Drugs?


muzeuterpe1 said...

Hey, if you want a job where you can use all the recreational drugs you want, become a Kanawha County school teacher.

Rebecca Burch said...

Hey, now, Muze...!


Anonymous said...

And in a somewhat ominous Kanawha Co/WV pseudo-related note:
"One urban area with a gambling industry had meth levels more than five times higher than other cities."

Like we already don't have enough of a meth problem.