Sector: illegal drugs

Posted: January 24, 2014
Source: Mother Nature News.com

Scientists, increasingly able to detect minuscule amounts of compounds, have begun to test sewage to gauge communities’ use of illegal drugs.

By Brian Bienkowski for Environmental Health News

Dan Burgard, an associate chemistry professor, knew students tried to get an edge. But he didn’t know about the “study drug.”

“I was walking with a student,” Burgard said, “and they bemoaned that it wasn’t students cheating nowadays to get ahead, but that they were taking Adderall,” a potent amphetamine used to treat attention disorders.

Burgard had an idea: Let’s test the campus sewage. What he and his students at University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash., found confirmed their suspicions.

“The amphetamine levels go through the roof during finals,” Burgard said.

Scientists, increasingly able to detect minuscule amounts of compounds, have begun to test sewage to gauge communities’ use of illegal drugs. When people take drugs, they are either unchanged or the body turns them into metabolites before they’re excreted.
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