Secondhand Sniffing

Atmospheric pollution is a hot topic as the arctic ice melts and politicians fail to agree, but we all experience it personally as we breath and sneeze our way through the day. I hear more and more complaints about allergies these days. The issue of secondhand smoking has produced smoking bans in public places in many countries.

            The latest problem of unintentional ingestion has been highlighted by Cecinato et al of the National Research Council of Italy and is published in the current issue of the journal Science of the Total Environment (1), and was highlighted in yesterday’s Annals of Improbable research (2). It addresses the issue of the good citizens of Italy involuntary ingestion of psychotropic substances – unknowingly, of course.

The authors track the levels of atmospheric cocaine and cannabinoids from the cannabis smokers and compare it to dire situations such as the variation in the levels of crime.

It seems that the more atmospheric cocaine that is drifting around in the atmosphere to be sniffed up willy-nilly by the average citizen, the more drugs are seized, the more demands for clinical treatment are made, and the higher the number of drug related crimes. These may seem understandable but not necessarily causally related. However, the levels also correlate with tumor insurgence and that is quite a bit more scary.

As the cannabinoid level floating about increases locally, so does the level of mental illness. Another scary statistic that needs the causal relationship to be established, otherwise these reports are reminiscent of the US scare information disseminated in the ’30’s when the crackdown on psychotropic drugs came in hard following prohibition of alcohol.

  1. A. Cecinato et al, Science of the Total Environment, 412, 87, (2011)
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