- 20 October 2012
- Magazine issue 2887.
A study of psychotropic drug levels in ambient air from eight Italian cities found background levels of cocaine, cannabinoids – the active ingredients in marijuana – nicotine and caffeine in every urban centre.
Turin had the highest concentrations of cocaine, says Angelo Cecinato at the Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research in Rome. Meanwhile, Bologna and Florence had some of the highest cannabinoid levels, which Cecinato attributes to the large student populations in the two cities. The drug concentrations are much too low to have an effect, though.
Psychotropic substances were monitored in eight big cities of Italy over one year, starting in May 2010, in the frame of the Ariadrugs Project. Yearly average concentrations ranged from 0.02 ± 0.01 to 0.26 ± 0.11 ng/m3 for cocaine, from 0.05 ± 0.05 to 0.96 ± 1.37 ng/m3 for cannabinoids, from 16 ± 6 to 61 ± 28 ng/m3 for nicotine, and from 1.0 ± 0.8 to 8 ± 7 ng/m3 for caffeine. Palermo and Turin were the cities suffering the lowest and the highest psychotropic substance concentrations, respectively. Nicotine and cocaine exhibited trends less seasonally modulated than common air toxicants. Caffeine and cannabinoids peaked in winter dropping close to zero from May to August. In Rome, where various anthropic contours were investigated in February 2011, differences were observed both in net concentrations and ratios of psychotropic substances vs. regulated toxicants. Ambient drugs look as a consequence of addiction and their burdens give insights about the corresponding consumes.