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Even Short Smoke Exposures Up Non-Smoker Pollutant Levels

Even a 10-minute exposure to secondhand smoke increases PAH, fine particulate exposure

FRIDAY, Nov. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Even a short, 10-minute exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) in the back of a vehicle results in increased exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and fine particulates (PM2.5), according to a study published online Nov. 21 in Tobacco Control.

Amanda L. Northcross, Ph.D., of the University of California Berkeley, and colleagues quantified exposure to PAH, particulates, carbon monoxide, and nicotine in the back seat of a vehicle, where a child would sit, when a volunteer smoked three cigarettes in a one-hour period in a stationary vehicle. These measurements were repeated 22 times and in vehicles with two different window configurations.

The researchers found that the mean PAH concentration was 1,325.1 ng/m³, which is higher than levels banned in bars and restaurants in countries where smoking is banned. At an average PM2.5 exposure of 1,697 µg/m³, as was measured in the first window configuration, the investigators calculated that even a 10-minute exposure would increase a child's average daily PM2.5 exposure by 30 percent.

"The findings of our study support the idea that SHS exposures should be limited in vehicles, especially with children present," the authors write. "Reducing SHS exposures in a vehicle would substantially reduce personal exposure for both children and adults. Particularly in the case of children, measures to reduce or eliminate SHS exposure in vehicles could have a major impact in reducing the risks of SHS-related illness."

The Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute provided financial support for this study.

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