There’s a new tool in the fight against the opioid crisis.

Until now there had been no way for someone to identify what was in their drugs prior to using them. A new device, a portable mass spectrometer, is able to test samples of drugs and within 20 seconds determine the contents.

“We can take a complicated sample and by measuring the mass of the individual components in that we can tell what’s actually in it,” said Jeffrey Smith, the director of Carleton’s Mass Spectrometry Centre.

The device is only available to those who use the supervised injection site at the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre and can detect drugs, including fentanyl.

“In particular we want to look at people’s decision making once they’ve got that extra information about what’s in their drug,” said uOttawa professor and project lead Lynne Leonard.

The testing of the drug samples will be optional and it will be up to the individual to decide whether they use the drugs or not once they get the results.