Sunday, December 18, 2011

"Are You Inhaling Secondhand Coke?"

Not as prestigious as the Journal of Leisure Research, this rag sometimes has some good stuff.
From Science:
We've all seen those color-coded air-quality charts on the news—warnings about smog, ozone, and pollen. Now it may be time to add a new alert to the list: illegal drugs. Researchers have found that regions with greater cocaine and marijuana use have higher levels of these drugs in the surrounding atmosphere.
A few studies since the mid-1990s have shown that illicit drugs make their way into the atmosphere. In 2007, for example, analytical chemist Angelo Cecinato and colleagues at the Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research in Rome, detected small amounts of cocaine in the air of Rome and the city of Taranto on the coast of southern Italy. "We considered it a curiosity," Cecinato says.

But further research revealed that atmospheric concentrations of certain drugs were higher wherever drug use was presumed to be more prevalent—leading Cecinato and co-workers to wonder if they had found a better way to estimate the extent of drug abuse in a given area. Currently, authorities must rely on indirect information, such as communitywide surveys or questionnaires and police records. These methods can be time-consuming and expensive, Cecinato explains. Measuring the amount of drugs in the air, his group suspected, might be accurate, fast, and cheap....MORE
HT: Improbable Research who also point us to:
MIT professor Scott Aaronson, in his blog, describes his interesting dilemma. It concerns the video shown below...MORE