Seattle is installing fentanyl detectors on city buses after operators have gotten sick from fumes emitted by passengers' drugs.
The city this week began installing detectors on buses and trams in King County, the Seattle Times reported. Over 50 bus operators filed worker compensation claims for drug and chemical exposure in 2022, according to the Times. Many of the drivers became so sick they needed to stop driving and seek emergency medical treatment.
The city is installing the detectors as part of a University of Washington study whose researchers hope to "better understand drugs that are being smoked on the buses and trains." Symptoms of fentanyl exposure include dizziness and breathing difficulties.
While officials from the Washington Poison Center downplayed the risk of secondhand fentanyl exposure, local transit union president Kenneth Price noted to the Times that if the drug is dangerous enough to kill its users, it is likely potent enough to hurt those who are nearby. Typically, people smoke fentanyl by placing a pill on aluminum foil and heating it with a lighter, then sucking the vapor through a straw. It smells like engine oil mixed with peanut butter.
Seattle's detectors will monitor public transit air for heroin, methamphetamine, and oxycodone as well as fentanyl.
Price wants city transit agencies also to post QR codes inside vehicles for passengers to scan and report public drug use directly to authorities. He hopes these codes could alert legislators to the scope of the problem.
Progressive cities across the country are grappling with public drug use thanks to their soft-on-crime policies. Businesses are fleeing San Francisco due to the city's rampant "open-air drug market." Democrats are increasingly brushing off concerns about drug use and other crime, claiming these are just normal aspects of urban life.