Environmental Crack Smoke

The National Institutes of Health, through the National Institute of Drug Abuse, is funding a study titled "Assessment of the Risk of Passive Inhalation of Drugs" (Project No. Z01-DA00310). So I guess that would be "environmental crack smoke" or "ECS," for short?

The study abstract reads:

When drugs of abuse are smoked, volatile components and pyrolysis material escape into the atmosphere. Depending on the local environment, bystanders may be exposed to the drug by passive inhalation of the contaminated air. Artificial methods have been developed to smoke drugs of abuse in a controlled environment and to measure drug concentrations in air. These methods were then applied to the design of human clinical studies to assess the hazards of environmental exposure to drugs. Subjects were exposed to vaporized drug in a small unventilated room. The study was performed under blind conditions with placebo control and multiple active doses of drug. Urine, blood and saliva samples were collected and analyzed by immunoassay and by solid-phase-extraction followed by analysis by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Results indicated that subjects' level of drug exposure are dependent upon numerous factors including the amount of drug in air, length of exposure, and degree of room ventilation. It was clear that unknowing drug exposure could be dangerous to unsuspecting bystanders, particularly to small children. These studies will establish limits of exposure to volatile components of drugs under controlled conditions.

Now I'm sure that even in the "make-work-to-justify-my-budget" world of the National Institutes of Health, studying the health effects of secondhand crack smoke is a novel way to spend taxpayer dollars.

But isn't the overwhelming danger to those around crack smoke the people smoking the crack? And are the feds, in addition to distributing free needles to drug abusers, going to establish separately vented lounges for smoking crack?

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