When a person is in the presence of someone smoking, inhaling or manufacturing drugs or other related substances, but does not actively smoke or inhale the drug him or herself, passive exposure occurs. This can happen with individuals who are smoking marijuana or crack cocaine, inhaling cocaine, or manufacturing or smoking methamphetamine. This can affect children in the presence of parents or other adults using drugs, as well as teenagers or adults are in the presence of friends or others in social or public situations who are smoking or using drugs.
This type of exposure, especially over an extended period of time can cause serious health problems for individuals of all ages. People are exposed to drugs by inhaling either the smoke of burning substances or the fumes that others have exhaled. Studies have shown that, when around adults using methamphetamine, cocaine and other drugs, young children have tested at levels as high or higher for the substances as the adults who actively used the drugs.
Passive Exposure Testing
Social workers and the legal system, parents and legal guardians can gain valuable information from testing children and teenagers for passive exposure to drugs. If they suspect that their child’s other parent is using drugs when the child is in their custody, divorced or separated parents may have their children tested. After a child has been caught with other users and claim they did not actively use the substance but were merely present when it was in use, parents or guardians may also require testing.