Spanish Study Finds Cocaine and Other Drugs in the Air
“Not even if we lived for a thousand years would we consume the equivalent of a dose of cocaine by breathing this air,” scientist Miren Lopez de Alda said. The study also stressed that “in no case should these levels be considered representative of the air in the two cities,” as the tests were done in areas where drugs were likely to be used. In Madrid, the test site was close to a building frequented by drug dealers, and in both Madrid and Barcelona, the studies were done in close proximity to universities.
In addition to cocaine, the study found trace amounts of amphetamines, opiates, cannabinoids, and lysergic acid (a relative of LSD) in both Barcelona and Madrid. The drugs were detected by placing quartz microfiber filters in the air-testing stations, a new method that could help measure drug use in towns and cities quickly and anonymously.
The study also showed higher concentrations of the drugs on weekends, suggesting that more people use drugs in this period. Cocaine was found in concentrations ranging between 29 and 850 picograms per cubic meter of air; a pictogram is one-trillionth of a gram. In comparison, one study in Rome and Taranto, Italy, in 2007 showed cocaine levels of 100 picograms per cubic meter.
According to the US State Department, Spain is Europe’s largest consumer of cocaine and hashish. Narcotics are also shipped through Spain from South and Central America and Africa.