Comments Off on University of Alabama at Birmingham Students Detect Meth on Currency

Two students from the University of Alabama Birmingham found traces of methamphetamine on $1 bills. It was the first time that meth contamination has been identified on currency since they began testing for their research in 2008.

In an article published on UAB website, Jessi Mann, a UAB senior participating in the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, and Brandon Fultz, a senior chemistry major, tested a total of four sets of twenty $1 bills from Jefferson County.

The bills were collected from a variety of sources: two sets came from a home-improvement store in the northern part of the county; one set from a fast-food restaurant in downtown Birmingham; and the last from a home-improvement store in the western part of the county.

The highest instance of meth contamination was detected on the bills from the home-improvement store in north Jefferson County, with 17 out of the 20 bills. The lowest instance of contamination was found in downtown Birmingham, with 2 out of the 20 bills.

According to Randy Christian, chief deputy in the Jefferson County Alabama Sheriff’s Office, the students’ finding was “not surprising at all,” saying it reflects the arrests made within the county.

“The majority of meth-related arrests seem to occur in northern and western Jefferson County, while central and southern parts see fewer of these types of arrests. Meth possession appears to be more prevalent in more rural parts of the county. This is likely due to the secrecy involved in the manufacturing process and the demographics of the users,” Christian said.

For Mann, Fultz, and Elizabeth Gardner, Ph.D., a justice sciences assistant professor, their theory is that the contamination came directly from the meth, but Gardner is also saying she thinks “the contamination on currency is coming from sweat.”

In 2009, UAB students found 65 percent of $1 bills in Birmingham had traces of cocaine. Their new finding will be published in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Microgram Journal later this year.



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