There's Something in the Air in Italy: It's Cocaine

There's Something in the Air in Italy: It's Cocaine

By The Fix staff 10/23/12

You can't walk through an Italian city without involuntarily ingesting a range of drugs, researchers find.

Image: 
Turin is Italy's capital of airborne coke.
Photo via

Plenty of people have found it stimulating to wander round one of the great Italian cities. Many will have been unaware that they were inhaling cocaine at the time. Researchers from Italy's Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research analyzed air particles in Naples, Verona, Palermo, Rome, Bologna, Florence, Turin and Milan, and have just published their findings in the Environmental Pollution journal. Traces of cocaine were ubiquitous, but sober folk may not need to count a trip to Italy as an automatic relapse: no one's getting high on quantities ranging from 0.02-0.26 nanograms per cubic meter. Despite Naples' solid reputation for organized crime, and all those tourists flooding into Rome and Florence, the highest level of atmospheric cocaine was found in Turin. The northern city's air also contains the most cannabinoids, nicotine and caffeine, which were measured at the same time. Intriguingly, caffeine and marijuana levels in all the cities were higher in the winter months and much lower in the summer (nicotine and cocaine levels remained steady year-round). A manifestation of seasonal affective disorder, perhaps? A previous Italian study showed a strong correlation between the concentration of cocaine in the air and requests for addiction treatment in a given area. What would airborne drug analysis in New York, San Francisco or Miami reveal?