Device can test for drugs in your breath

Swedish researchers have designed a breathalyzer for drugs.
Written by Boonsri Dickinson, Contributing Editor

Peeing in a cup for a drug test might soon be half baked. Researchers have designed a breathalyzer that can detect the presence of drugs in a person's breath. We already use it to find out if someone is drinking over the legal limit and for diagnosing diseases such as cancer, asthma, and diabetes.

Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet's device (see below) can test for drugs in a person's exhaled breath, rather than requiring the routine urine and blood samples.

To test for drugs, a person would have to breathe into a mask for ten minutes, so the filter could collect any evidence of narcotics substances. Then the researchers put the filter through a combined liquid chromatography and tandem mass-spectrometry for a proper reading.

The researchers tested the technique out on 12 people who were being treated for amphetamine overdose — and even after the symptoms of the overdose subsided, the researchers could detect traces of the drugs in the drugged out person's breath.

In a statement:

"The results are convincing and very promising," says Professor Beck. "The study is the first to report the possibility of measuring drugs in the exhaled breath, and represents a unique, unexpected finding. We now have to move on to other drugs that are of interest for this type of breath test, and to develop the sampling and analysis methods. An instrument like a breathalyzer for drugs would be the optimal solution for the efficient control of drug use by motorists, for example."

We need to treat drug driving the same we treat drunk driving. The Daily Mail reports on another type of drug test: "A protoype roadside 'drugalyser' device developed by Concateno in conjunction with Philips is to seek type approval. It can detect the presence  of six different drugs - including cannabis, ecstasy, heroin, cocaine - from a single saliva sample in just 90 seconds."

Copyright: Olof Beck, Karolinska Institutet

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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