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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Public Air, Public Drug Use

Rome - Measurable Illegal Drugs in the Air
The prevalence of illegal drugs in our society is breathtaking (not to mention legal drugs).

(Note that in the examples I cite below either the drug or its metabolism by-products are measured.  The later indicates biochemical products produced and excreted by the body that can only be present if the humans involved are consuming said drugs.)

For example (from this), in 96 Oregon cities where the sewers were tested for methamphetamines, all 96 showed traces indicating that the drug was in use in each city.  Ecstacy, in Norway, peaks in the sewers during certain high school breaks during the year.

From this we see documentation of illegal drugs in our public waterways (note that there are also significant concentrations of legal prescription drugs as well).

We also know that almost 90% of the money in the US is contaminated.

These are nothing new and illegal drugs have been found in the environment for years.

Recently illegal drugs have appeared somewhere new: the air we breath.

At Wired, for example, there is a report from the Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research in Rome showing that drugs such as cocaine and marijuana are detectable directly in the atmosphere at certain points in the city of Rome.

So much so that they believe it can be used to estimate usage and plan treatment strategies.

Some studies have also found, for example, correlations between illegal drugs and disease, e.g., cancer or mental disorders.

So the "illegal drug culture" is being visited on you whether you want it or not - literally from all points in your environment - particularly if you live in a big city.

Now legal, but abused, prescription drugs, don't make it into the atmosphere, at least not yet.

But they are prevalent in the water.

So where does this all take us?

Well, based on comments in the Wired article and elsewhere I can easily see a time in the not-too-distant future where some sort of scanner is waved over you and, if you've been naughty, alarms will go off and you'll be off to jail.

The contamination of money is already used in this way by the legal system - but only if it can be isolated to an individual under prosecution.

So drug use is now so common that its detectable from the atmosphere - around the users at the level of a city block, for example.

Imagine the quantities that must be used for this - certainly far more than a couple of bumps at the local dive bar.  One imagines that the concentrations within the clubs, bar and building (including apartment buildings and/or homes) to be much higher - after all no one goes outside to do this - and what's in the atmosphere in town is lower than what's going on at home.

What's outside is literally leaking out of the homes and apartments through open windows and doors.

Imagine the quantity being imported into these areas to create a measurable foot print like this.

These facts would seem to take away any possibility that drugs are merely "harmless" and "don't affect anyone else besides the user."

I guess I will get to use drugs whether I want to or not...

And so will your children.

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