Fingerprint Drug Tests Are Next In Line

[DTN] Jan 20, 2020 – As breathalyzer drug tests are about to arrive on American roadsides, fingerprint drug tests are already being deployed in England and Europe. Last week, Precision Stevadores, a major supplier of labor and services for Britain’s many port cities, announced that it has chosen Intelligent Fingerprinting, Ltd. to supply its workplace drug screen services. 

“We’re delighted to be the first to be using the test at UK ports,” “said Philip Crawford, Precision Stevedores’ Health and Safety Manager. 

Scientists at Intelligent Fingerprinting, based in Cambridge, UK, have developed a portable drug test tech that reportedly can detect drug metabolites from the small traces of sweat that gather between the fingerprint grooves. Research carried out at East Anglia University in 2018 demonstrated that there is sufficient sweat in the human fingertip to justify the development of a new, fingerprint-based  drug screening system.

A peer-reviewed report published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology confirmed that the new tech can reliably detect marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines and opiates in a very short period of time. Emeritus Prof David Russell, from UEA’s School of Chemistry, who co-authored the research and is Intelligent Fingerprinting’s Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, claims “a sample collection time of only five seconds, and a total analysis time of ten minutes.” 

The fingerprint drug test uses a small cartridge that comes sealed in tamper-evident pouch. The cartridge collects ten digital fingerprints – “non-invasive, dignified,” fast and clean, according to the manufacturer – and then a battery-powered analysis unit reads the cartridge and provides a positive or negative result on-screen. “We are expecting the fingerprint sweat test approach to catch on quickly,” Professor Russell said. 

Since its debut two years ago, the fingerprint drug test has been sold to private sector industries in Australia, New Zealand, Italy and Spain; but the U.S. has been more hesitant. So far, the United States has limited the innovation to  “Forensic Use Only” meaning fingerprint tech is currently available to companies which use it for criminal justice purposes. That includes coroners who can now use fingerprints to gain early clues into a cause of death. The 2018 research demonstrated that there is “sufficient sweat present in a subject’s fingerprint, regardless of whether the person is alive or dead.”  Who knew?

It make take a year or two for fingerprint drug test technology to worm its way way into the private sector, but its deployment in the American workplace is certain. Dead certain, in fact. The old pirate saying “Dead men tell no tales” no longer seems to be true. 

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