More on Breath Testing for Drugs – It is Coming

A roadside breath test for cocaine, marijuana, and other drugs may not have arrived in your state yet, but it is coming. Using a commercially available breath sampler, Swedish scientists were able to identify 12 drugs in the breath samples provided by at least 40 patients who had taken drugs in the previous 24 hours. However, all were probably hard core users because they were were recovering at a drug addiction emergency clinic.

This study is the first to detect alprazolam (the active ingredient in Xanax) and benzoylecgonine (an inactive metabolite of cocaine) in exhaled breath, according to a journal news release. Ths study confirms that diazepam (Valium), amphetamine, methamphetamine, morphine, and other substances can be detected in a person’s breath.

The author of the study emphasized that future studies should test the correlation between blood concentrations of drugs and the breath concentration. Currently, analysis of blood and urine samples is the most common method for detecting the presence of drugs and in the case of blood the concentration. However, advocates believe that breath test for drugs would be simpler, less invasive and easier to use in many locations, including roadside checks. Accuracy is another, and more important, factor.

Exhaled breath contains micro-particles that carry certain substances picked up from the fluid lining the airway. Any compound that has been inhaled or is present in the body can pass into the breath, where it can be detected. When a person breathes into the device, saliva and large particles are separated from the micro-particles that need to be measured. The micro-particles are deposited on a filter, which can then be sealed and stored until analysis is conducted using lab tests known as liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry.

Written by Allen Trapp who is board certified by the National College for DUI Defense and the author of Georgia DUI Survival Guide Visit Website

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