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Opioid breathalyzer could help doctors, police

The device, which collects breath as a liquid, is in development and could help determine what drugs may be in a person's system.

It's like a breathalyzer police use to catch drunk drivers, but a new device created at the University of California - Davis can help detect opioids and other drugs.

“We collect breath in a liquid format in this device and we chill it and then we collect it as a liquid and run it through a mass spectrometer to measure what’s in there,” Dr. Nicholas Kenyon at UC Davis Health told CBS13 in Sacramento.

The device could have multiple uses. Law enforcement could use it to determine if someone had been taking drugs. Doctors and family members could also test to see if someone is taking actually taking drugs they have been prescribed.

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Kenyon reportedly says the military has expressed interest and firefighters see it as a possible tool to let them know if it's safe to go back into a burned building or forest to clean up.

The device is not yet ready for distribution. It's still too big and takes too long to produce a final reading. Researchers hope it can start being used within three years.