Last weekend, folks handed out the levamisole test kit at three places around Seattle: the University District Needle Exchange, at a table in Pioneer Square, and on a sidewalk on Capitol Hill. We're just starting to get postcard-surveys back—14 so far—and the results, while extremely preliminary, are a little grim*.
Only 2 of the 14 samples tested negative for levamisole and one of those samples had been hanging around somebody's house since 2009.
So that's an 85% contamination rate (a 92% contamination rate for all samples from 2010), which is higher than the DEA's estimated 70% contamination rate for the entire U.S.
Of the two levamisole-negative samples, one was purchased in the Central District and one was purchased on Capitol Hill.
Thirteen of the samples were powder cocaine and the one crack-cocaine sample, purchased in the Green Lake neighborhood, tested positive. (The respondent on that survey wrote: "2—3 years same source! Not cool!")
The neighborhood breakdown for tested samples: 6 from Capitol Hill, 3 from the Central District, 2 from Ravenna, 1 from Green Lake, 1 from the University District, and 1 unknown. The date range of purchase, excluding the 2009 sample, was from mid-September to mid-November, 2010.
I'll post more results as they come (the postcard surveys from last weekend are just starting to trickle in in the mail) and hopefully we'll eventually post a map and a grid with complete results.
It appears that the CDC has stopped its surveillance of levamisole-induced immune-system crashes so we have no idea how many people are getting sick, or even dying, from this stuff. All we have at the moment is anecdotal evidence—but doctors at UW and Harborview say they're continuing to see patients with levamisole poisoning in Seattle and some doctors report seeing patients with levamisole poisoning every week.
If you have questions about the project, test results you'd like to share via email, or questions about how to get a kit (we're almost out at the moment, but we'll make more), write to email@example.com.
And soon we'll publish the kit protocol online, so all you Sloggers with access to lab equipment can make your own...
* If you have no idea what the hell I'm talking about, the answer starts here.