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UW drug abuse epidemiologist gathers data from sewage analysis

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  • UW drug abuse epidemiologist gathers data from sewage analysis
    By Kelton Sears Thu., Sep 25 2014 at 02:43PM


    In what would basically be a pee-test of epic proportions, Banta-Green is interested in the sampling method because it's anonymous, localizes results, and is far more accurate than most drug-use data, which is often only collected on a State level and based on unreliable phone surveys. The author of Washington's pot law, Allison Holcomb, thinks it's a marvelous idea.

    The idea came from a similar test Banta-Green did with a colleague at Oregon State University in 2008.

    "We had arranged to have wastewater samples collected for one day from 96 municipalities in Oregon, which is 57 percent of the population.

    "We looked at three different drugs with patterns of abuse: methamphetamine, cocaine, and MDMA (ecstasy). We found methamphetamine in every one of these cities. We found cocaine in most of these cities. And we found MDMA in maybe half these cities, mostly bigger cities and college towns. We thought that was interesting academically?you know, that this method appeared to work?but then also from a public perception, drug policy perspective what I found really compelling was that none of these cities except maybe Portland had drug use data about their own city. It was always a state average." ...

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