Published: October 1st, 2015
In order to get a better ideal of drug habits around the world, scientists and law enforcement agencies tend to measure the residue amount of drugs left in our waste water before it is treated at a sewage plant. It gives agencies a glimpse of what drugs are being used, and in what quantities, in any given locality. Taking things to the next level, a group of Italian scientists has started measuring the amount of trace drugs in the atmosphere itself!
It was found that in Europe, THC and the other cannabinoids were the most common illicit substance to be found in the air, with far more being found in winter (1.3 -21 ng/m3) than in the summer (0.09 -0.25 ng/m3). Following up in second place for most abundant airborne drug was cocaine!
Other illicit drugs, like heroin, ketamine and meth were not very common at all, although scientists did manage to detect a small amount in the atmosphere – especially around nightclubs where drugs like these are often used. Rather interestingly, but not surprisingly, the levels of THC and cocaine in the air spiked during the weekends, while other drugs did not – showing they are used on a more leisurely basis, as way to unwind after a long week, the same way alcohol might be.
The fact that there are higher levels of THC in the atmosphere during the winter may be down to the actual weather, as wind speed is lower and more humid – allowing the air to stagnate.
While it is certainly a new and novel way of monitoring the drugs around us, it is probably not the most efficient – or at least, not yet. However, if anything, it shows that the very air we breathe is laced with the good stuff! It is just a shame it is not enough to get us high!