British researchers came to the conclusion that traces of cocaine and heroin can be found on the fingers of every tenth person in developed countries, although most of them have never used the use drugs, according to a new study published in the Clinical Chemistry journal.
The rapid spread of drugs in developed countries in recent years has made scientists look for new ways to quickly detect their traces in humans and on the surfaces of various household items.
A year ago, British scientists developed a new method that enables them to find traces of drugs, including cocaine, as well as heroin and other opiates, in people's fingerprints within seconds.
But as it turns out, sometimes these tests can produce false results.
Dr. Melanie Bailey and her research team from the University of Surrey in the UK tested this idea on 65 volunteers, some of whom used drugs, while others never tried them.
The outcome of the tests was very much surprising to the researchers. They showed that some 13% of fingerprints from volunteers, who had not used drugs, contained traces of cocaine and 1% of them had traces of heroin or its derivatives.
With their new findings the scientists hope to protect innocent people from false results from drug tests in the future.
The study could help criminalists to base their findings on a certain concentration of the substances in a person's fingerprints that would help minimize the number of false positives and protect innocent people from unjustified accusations.