New Technology Could Detect Opioid Use through Breath Test

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DAVIS -- Opioid-related deaths rose above 2,200 in California in 2017 alone, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers are now hoping a new technology will save lives.

“We’ve developed a collector that can take the breath and store it in a liquid format,” Dr. Nick Kenyon told FOX40.

Kenyon is a professor of medicine, and he says the breath test can be used to care for patients who take opioids for chronic pain.

The technology is 15 years in the making and was developed at UC Davis.

“This is packed with dry ice, so it chills the breath into a liquid format,” Kenyon said. “As a doctor, we have to record all the opioids that patients take, not just from us, but from a number of prescribers.”

Like a breathalyzer used to test the amount of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream, this device stores droplets for testing.

Kenyon says it should help record opioid intake which can be challenging.

It could also be useful for the police if they want to detect illegal drug use.

“It’s got a lot of uses, and I’m sure law enforcement would be interested in using this as a breathalyzer type of device,” Kenyon said.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there were more than 47,000 opioid deaths in the country in 2017.

Kenyon says in the long term, they hope to expand the uses for the technology to detect chemicals in vaping devices and identify chemicals people are exposed to after a wildfire.

Researchers say the breath test requires more testing before it will be made available to the public.

According to Kenyon, that could happen within the next few years.

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