TEMPE, AZ. (3TV/CBS5) -  A groundbreaking study done by Arizona State University has detected opioids, drugs like codeine, oxycodone, and fentanyl, in Tempe’s wastewater system.

It was part of research where scientists turned to sewage to study the opioid crisis.

"(The study) is only a few hundred dollars per sample and yet we learn about the behavior of hundreds of thousands, even millions of people," said chief A.S.U. scientist Rolf Halden.

Scientists told Arizona’s Family a study like it had never been done before in the United States.

So far, though, they said it appears that the study of sewage could be useful.

In fact, scientists said traces of four different opioids were found in Tempe’s wastewater.

"We are the biggest and greatest when it comes to opioid use and that has to do with the way we prescribe opioids," said Rolf.

Researchers now plan on sharing information with emergency workers, giving them the tools to track and predict where the problems are going forward.

“(Paramedics) carry the antidote, and they can help out people who have taken to street drug,” said Rolf.

According to scientists, wastewater sampling is similar to that of blood and urine testing.

All this, as the city of Tempe hopes to end opioid-related deaths and overdoses by 2025.


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