Testing for drugs with fingerprints now a reality

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A new system that uses fingerprints for drug tests is surprisingly accurate

According to a study published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology, fingerprints could soon be used to test for drugs in individuals. A new system, called the Reader 1000, apparently is able to detect cannabis and other drugs through fingerprints and is said to have an accuracy rate of 99%.

The system was designed by a firm out of the UK, Intelligent Fingerprinting. It is reportedly capable of determining the presence of four classes of drugs – cannabis, opiates, amphetamines and cocaine – by taking samples of sweat from fingerprints. It uses a cartridge for collecting the sample and a portable analysis unit to read the cartridge. It can deliver results within 10 minutes, according to the manufacturer.

While it is able to identify the four different classes, it has shown to be most successful with cannabis. The natural drug has a 99% successful detection rate, while cocaine’s rate was only 95%. Opiates can be properly detected 96% of the time and amphetamines, 93%.

The company’s founder, David Russell, said in a press release, ‘This new research highlights how our [device] can screen rapidly for drug use in individuals using a fingerprint sample with a sample collection time of only five seconds, and a total analysis time of ten minutes.” Russell is also an Emeritus Professor at the University of East Anglia in the UK.

The system is currently being used by morgues, as well as drug treatment centers and schools, in the UK. It could soon be rolled out to correctional facilities and probation services and, eventually, make its way across the Atlantic to the US.