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News (Media Awareness Project) - Italy: Illegal Drugs Can Be Detected In The Air - And Could
Title:Italy: Illegal Drugs Can Be Detected In The Air - And Could
Published On:2011-12-19
Source:Mail on Sunday, The (UK)
Fetched On:2011-12-20 06:02:53

We know that air pollution in the form of traffic and factory fumes
can pose a health risk -- but airborne traces of illegal drugs could
do too, say researchers.

Scientists at the Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research in Rome
found traces of cocaine and cannabis in the air around dozens of sites
in Italy.

They also discovered statistical correlations between cocaine levels
and certain types of cancer -- and between cannabis levels and mental

The project's leader, Angelo Cecinato, was cautious about drawing firm
conclusions from his study, but epidemiologist Wilson Compton of the
National Institute on Drug Abuse, Bethesda, Maryland, told Science
Now: 'The researchers did find this link, and it's worth further exploration.

'Second-hand cigarette smoke wasn't considered a health threat either,
until comparatively recently.'

Cecinato and his team tested air quality in 59 sites in Italy across
various regions in the summer and winter months, screening it for
cocaine and cannabinoids, the active ingredient in marijuana.

As well as the links with health problems, the team found higher
airborne concentrations of the drugs in areas where police had made
big seizures, where higher than average numbers of people requested
treatment and with cocaine levels and certain types of crime.

The results left the team wondering if air-testing for drugs might be
a cheaper and more efficient way for authorities to target drug abuse.

Compton added: 'We're always looking for more accurate ways to gauge
the amount of drug use in communities.'
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