Spectral Detection of Lithium Uptake in Vegetation for Forensic Locating of Methamphetamine Lab Sites
S. R. Arink, G. J. Cwick, M. P. Fasnacht, L. Swatzell

Methamphetamine is a controlled substance having a great potential for abuse and addiction. Millions of Americans have tried this stimulant, so the need to stop its production is rapidly increasing. One approach that could assist in this regard is the use of spectral analysis of vegetation growing on land suspected of being a methamphetamine dump site. This could allow law enforcement to use multispectral data to examine the surrounding land under suspicion and obtain probable cause for a warrant for further forensic investigation of the site. As part of its production, lithium metal is introduced with anhydrousammonia to convert pseudoephedrine to methamphetamine. After this process, the remnant lithium is discarded nearby outdoors where weedy plants (such as Arabidopsis thaliana) can uptake the waste. The amount of lithium in Arabidopsis tissue can be ascertained through biochemical analysis and relatively high concentrations have the potential to affect reflected energy in particular spectral wavelengths. An experiment was conducted to determine if lithium uptake into the tissue of Arabidopsis could be discerned spectrally. T-test and linear regression evaluations found that the spectral responses of lithium treated plants were statistically different from those of controls in certain visible and near-infrared regions.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/jns.v2n2a1