Friday, September 2, 2011
As snorting bath salts and smoking synthetic marijuana become more popular amongst teenagers and young adults, scientists and researchers have been working hard to develop new tests which would be able to determine whether or not someone has been abusing them. While very little is known about these drugs, the side-effects have reared their ugly heads in emergency rooms across the country. Side-effects include psychosis, suicidal thoughts, and hallucinations. These drugs are extremely dangerous and parents should be cautious about their presence in the house.
Bath salts and synthetic marijuana are among the topics being presented at this year’s 242nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) being held this week. Any drug marketed as “bath salts”, “incense”, and “plant food” have not yet been made illegal and are undetectable with current drug testing.
Scientists are developing tests that would be able to identify particular substances that are used in the making of such legally obtainable products. Oliver Sutcliffe, Ph.D., and his colleagues have been working on a method called isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) to determine who is making bath salts and which chemical companies provided the raw materials. "With the new method, we could work backwards and trace the substances back to the starting materials," said Sutcliffe.
Keep in mind, these aren’t the same bath salts you find in your neighborhood supermarket. These “salts” are sold on the Internet, on the street and stores that sell drug paraphernalia.
Sutcliffe has already developed a test that is able to identify mephedrone, the key ingredient used in bath salts. The test could be easily used in law enforcement labs. Sutcliffe and his team are developing a color-change test kit which they estimate will be available by the end of the year and would be able to test for mephedrone.