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Imaging Mass Spectrometry Helps Show Drugs Present on Human Fingertip

  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    Tiny trace amounts of cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin can be found on fingerprints using mass spectrometry, according to a new study. The advanced technique can find incredibly small amounts of the narcotics on a fingerprint, the National Institute of Standards and Technology researchers found.

    Amounts as small as 10 picograms were detected – a level which is equivalent to the weight of a human cell, according to online references. The fingerprints, if left on silicon, showed accurate levels and concentrations of all three substances, concluded the study, published in the journal Analytical Chemistry.

    On paper, the fingerprints showed cocaine clearly – but meth and heroin were harder to identify, due to limitations in the medium, they concluded. Shin Muramoto, the lead author of the report, said by email that the experiments are not useful in a conclusive criminal investigation - yet.

    "What makes this challenging is the huge variability in the amount of drugs that are present in the everyday objects we touch," Muramoto said. "Currency such as a twenty-dollar bill is known to contain heroin, but the amount varies enormously between bill to bill. Just because a person touched the bill with a high heroin loading does not make him a habitual user."

    The next step, Muramoto said, is to detect drug metabolites - the byproducts left after use of a drug - on the fingerprints. Fingerprints have been targeted as a potential source for investigative information over the last decade. The British-based company Intelligent Fingerprinting currently markets a mobile drug-screening device, which apparently works of miniscule samples of sweat.

    Previous studies have tried detecting trace amounts of drugs in latent fingerprints using Raman spectroscopy, a different kind of evaluation.

    By Seth Augustein - Drug Discovery & Development/May 11, 2015
    Newshawk Crew

    Author Bio

    BT2H is a retired news editor and writer from the NYC area who, for health reasons, retired to a southern US state early, and where BT2H continues to write and to post drug-related news to DF.


  1. TheBigBadWolf
    And yet another thing that is already suspect to become a means in the drug war.

    Not yet probable? they'll tell people that he who has nothing to hide can pay their stuff with the credit cards imposed on them , only offenders need to use cash money.

    As I don't see any of world's states government find a different approach than carrying on doing the war-on-drug-users we'll have about 5 years until they make cash money illegal.

    Problem solved - suspect=guilty is already what is in people's heads and the foolish masses won't even say a word, being un-(mis)educated and uncritical.

    No idea why they still push money in this nonsense when there's REAL problems to be solved :mad:

    They'd rather finally begin to fight REAL drug problems - problems with drugs not users, that is - by controlling antibiotics use and prescribing - the amount of germs that have become immune against antibiotics is growing and soon-ish we'll be thrown back into medieval times, concerning infections.

    This will be the most scary thing we all ever have experienced, having lived through times when infection= getting quick help from antibiotics did, but will not equate any more.

    Be afraid, be very afraid!

    It's seemingly more important to catch every 'goddamn drug offender' than face what problems humanity REALLY will soonish have to fight.

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