Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Big brother is watching you pee.

Well, this isn't creepy at all.

Scientists have devised a way to do a collective drug test on an entire community by testing a single teaspoon of sewer water from a water treatment plant. Click here for details.

The test detects cocaine, meth, marijuana, caffeine and probably chocolate and twinkies as well as no telling what else. They can probably tell which way everyone voted with this test.

There's a link to a poll on this AP page, and when I clicked on the poll, 47% of respondents said they were ok with it, and that the information may be useful in helping track drug usage and aid drug treatment programs.


People don't have a problem with this? Jeepers.

16 comments: said...

I suppose there is some advantages to having your own septic tank, huh? Man, that was close!

Zelda said...

It's a very interesting violation of civil liberties.

Anonymous said...

This is beyond gross. What I'd like to know is why if they can't tell you who shit the drugs or not?
And another thing, just how much is this costing us? We have starving Vet's homeless in front of the White House, along with children living on the streets because their parents lost their job's.
Just who the hell is minding the store?
That just pisses me off, no pun intended.

none said...

Great, now all my neighbors are going to start pissing in their yard.

g bro said...

No, I don't really have a problem with it. I would be willing to bet that you'd have to show probable cause before testing, say, a single house. It will turn out that the community with the highest concentration of drugs is one built with low-flush toilets.

I can already tell how everyone voted (collectively) - your precinct results are public record. But I can't tell how individuals voted. (Yeah, yeah, I know,
positive cocaine test = Democrat,
positive Oxycontin test = Rush Limbaugh).

Dick said...

Kelly will torch this one, trust me.
Send her an email on it.

SpeakerTweaker said...

Well, I can see no good is gonna come of this. My comment, I mean...

Yes, were this to come to fruition, someone would be spending quite the large chunk of our tax dollars to further the War on Drugs; a war that frankly the "good guys" seem to be losing.

However, Zelda, the whole civil liberties thing? Sorry, but no. The sewage is kinda like the trash. Once you put your garbage can by the street, it's open season. Any person is welcome to it. Consequently, if a cop digs through it (in broad daylight and right in front of warrant) and finds a heroin needle? You get an all-expense paid trip to The Greybar Inn.

There's no reasonable expectation of privacy in the sewers any more than there is in the trashcan. Ergo, there's no violation of civil liberties.

Anonymous said...

"One of the early results of the new study showed big differences in methamphetamine use city to city. One urban area with a gambling industry had meth levels more than five times higher than other cities. Yet methamphetamine levels were virtually nonexistent in some smaller Midwestern locales, said Jennifer Field, the lead researcher and a professor of environmental toxicology at Oregon State."

It took a piss test for these people to figure this out? Must've never been to Atlantic City or Vegas.

Kevin said...

I'd be interested to know what method they use. I'm a chemist and we can test for those compounds with an MS, but our extraction methods require a liter of sample to concentrate.
I'm really not sure how useful testing an entire community's effluent is anyway - I would imagine any community in the US would have trace amounts of all of the naughty drugs. Does seem a bit nosey, and something I would rather the government not spend too much time and resources on.

g bro said...


Damn! I tried so hard to avoid the phrase "reasonable expectation of privacy" in my comment, then you go and use it.
I watch too much Law & Order. ;-)

FHB said...

People are sheep. They'll just roll over and let it happen. Yep, septic tank... Scatologically off the grid?

Zelda said...

Speakertweaker - I wasn't being all that serious. But I'm a little over half way to thinking we just need to let people do all the drugs they want and Darwin themselves out of the gene pool.

Matt G said...

Drugs in sewage are toxins that need to be removed. To remove 'em, you need to measure them, and know what you're removing, and how effectively. There're already higher levels of estrogen in fish in water supplies where semi-treated water has been replenishing reservoirs. Yep-- birth control pills.

The SCOTUS has already made it clear that you're not entitled to an expectation of a right to privacy in your garbage, when you set it out. Why, then, would a community at large have an expectation of a collective privacy from inspection of their excrements, dumped into a common sewage?

If the testing was done at the junction of my house and the city sewage pipe, I'd be apolled, and furious. But that's not the case; this is done at the most downstream portion of the sewage, at the treatment plant.

There's nothing wrong, in my personal opinion, with identifying whether a community actually has a drug problem. Indeed, if there's very low crime and yet a high proportion of drugs in a community sewer, the answer might well be to find that drugs do not necessarily equal crime. If, however, a community is spending great resources on curbing drug use, and the sewage shows that drugs are just as rampant, then it's time to try a different tack, no?

It passes the sniff test, if just barely. [ew!]

Kevin said...

"Drugs in sewage are toxins that need to be removed".

Matt G - I don't think remediation is at the top of their priority list.
You make a good point about using the data to correlate with crime statistics though.

SpeakerTweaker said...

"...I'm a little over half way to thinking we just need to let people do all the drugs they want and Darwin themselves out of the gene pool."

I'm almost completely with Zelda at this point. The War on Drugs is a loser in my opinion. I agree: let people poison themselves however they choose. Who am I to tell people what they can and can't do with their bodies?

My only reluctance with such a program is this: as with all things, it's gotta get worse before it gets better. The first few months, or maybe years, of such a program will get downright bloody.

And it'll do it in everyone's backyard this time.


Anonymous said...

Don't water treatment plants have to test the water anyway before they release it back to reservoirs and other bodies of water?

I know that there was some testing of some streams and other bodies of water, not necessarily FROM water treatment plants, and in those natural bodies of water, things such as antidepressants and estrogens were showing up in the water.

Lord only knows that type of mutations in nature this will bring about!