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Sniffing Out Drugs
Amphetamines Detected in Exhaled Breath
June 12, 2010

Suspected drunk drivers can be tested quickly for alcohol by having them blow into a "breathalyzer." The detection of alcohol on the breath of drivers can get these people off the road. There are no breath tests for other drugs of abuse. New research, however, shows that amphetamines and methamphetamine can be detected in exhaled breath.

Researchers at the Karoliska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, studied 12 people who were recovering from recent drug use and eight people who were drug-free. Blood, urine and breath samples were taken from the people to determine which drugs each person had taken.

Using specialized equipment (combined liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry), the scientists found amphetamine and/or methamphetamine in the breath, blood and urine samples from all of the people who used drugs. These drugs were never detected in any of the samples from the drug-free control group.

The ability to detect amphetamines and methamphetamines in exhaled breath suggests that new drug testing methods are possible. The development of a small, portable device to detect these drugs would provide doctors and law enforcement officers with a quick and easy way test people for these chemicals.

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