Scientists: We can now drug test whole cities

Scientists in Norway believe they have a cost-effective method of examining sewage systems in order to test drug use in larger populations.

Some days, it seems that the majority of human being are, in one sense or other, drug-assisted.

Those drugs might be purely medicinal. They might be recreational. But seldom does it seem that one encounters a natural human being any more.

Scientists in Norway believe that they are in possession of a way to test just how much drug assistance is occurring not merely in individual humans, but in larger populations.

I am grateful to CBS News for sending me to the outer regions of Chemical and Engineering News, a place I don't often frequent.

There, I find revelations that scientists have been sampling sewage water in order to discover whether there were any especially raucous frat parties in the vicinity.

Sadly, they used to do this merely on an occasional basis, given the considerable expense of constant sampling.

Are the secrets of our drug use hidden down here? CC Schrierc/Flickr

However, the Norwegian Institute for Water Research enjoyed the simple idea of using passive water samplers, which are much cheaper, much smaller and don't require electricity.

Originally, they used these samplers to check the water around oil rigs, which must have been a very absorbing pursuit. Now, though, they hit upon the notion that they could expand their analysis to ordinary, troubled life.

The Chemical and Engineering News says the Oslo scientists have managed to successfully tabulate the amounts of cocaine, ecstasy and even Zyrtec in the effluent.

Those with a bent toward data would surely be moved to discover that a certain neighborhood was suddenly prone to, say, Vicodin use.

And yet it seems the results might not yet be entirely accurate, as sudden changes in the speed of the water might throw off the numbers.

Still, there is a certain beauty in the idea that larger populations might be examined for group mentality and behavior.

Realtors, no doubt, would delight in being able to obtain such anonymized information in this torture-filled housing market. Just imagine seeing a flier outside a nice house. After detailing the square footage, the kitchens, the bathrooms and the schools, it would list the preference for meth in the area.

That would surely put a few thousand on the house's value.

 

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