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Wastewater Drug Testing May Help Show Where Opioid Crisis Is Growing

A handful of Bay Area communities are now turning to their wastewater to track their opioid crisis.

The same tech that is being used to track COVID will now help them track fentanyl and meth in hopes of helping focus their efforts to address the growing crisis.

“We’re doing a pilot where we are testing wastewater for the presence of nicotine, fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine,” said Haylee Hannah, an epidemiologist with Marin County Health and Human Services.

Hannah described a program that began last month.

“The overall goal is so that we can understand more about substance use in the community, and have an idea of changes in that substance, use in a way that would help us respond early and prevent more overdoses,” she said.

There was a video that showed testing wastewater for COVID, which began during the pandemic. The plan could potentially give a clearer picture of where the opioid crisis is growing.

The communities are partnering with biodot analytics and want to incorporate any concerns into the pilot program.

“It is a new tool, and we want to understand one how it fits with our existing overdose surveillance data that we have and two an important part of the pilot for us is speaking to the community of people who use drugs and also those who work in overdose prevention,” said

Here is how it might work:

When a spike in opioids is found in the wastewater testing, prevention and recovery teams could reach out to key groups in the specific community and provide and provide specific harm reduction and overdose prevention messaging.

At the Sewer Authority Mid Coastside, based in Half Moon Bay, they’re also testing for high-risk substances. findings will be presented to their board soon.

“I would like to present it to our board get a feeling of what the board wishes to do whether we want to move further,” said Kishen Prathivadi, Sewer Authority Mid-Coastside.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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