Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Smoke-filled Cars: New Fodder For The Next Clean Air Fight

Date:
October 4, 2006
Source:
Center for the Advancement of Health
Summary:
New research from investigators at Harvard University measured secondhand tobacco smoke in cars and found pollution levels that are likely hazardous to children.

New research from investigators at Harvard University measured secondhand tobacco smoke in cars and found pollution levels that are likely hazardous to children.

"The levels were above the threshold for what's considered unhealthy for sensitive groups -- people like children and the elderly -- as determined by the Environmental Protection Agency," said lead study author Vaughan Rees, Ph.D., a research associate at the Harvard School of Public Health.

During 45 driving trials, the researchers strapped a pollution monitor into a child-safety seat, and then asked a smoker-volunteer to light up at different times along the near hour-long route. The road tests were conducted under two different ventilation conditions: all car windows rolled down, then with just the driver's side window cracked about two inches.

"Common sense tells you if you smoke in a pretty confined space, such as a car, without ventilation, there's going to be a lot of secondhand smoke which is potentially dangerous," said Rees.

He added, "Before this study we had no idea what sorts of levels of secondhand smoke were generated. And we had no way of comparing that with other studies that have looked at secondhand smoke levels in other indoor environments like bars and restaurants."

The study appears in the November issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

PM 2.5 is one often-used gauge of air quality, which reports the amount of "particulate matter" or particle pollution in the air that is 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller. The smaller the particles, the easier it is for pollution to pass through the nose and throat and penetrate into the lungs.

According to the U.S. Environmental Agency's Air Quality Index, 24-hour exposure to PM 2.5 greater than 40 micrograms per cubic meter is unhealthy for sensitive people -- which can include children, older people and people with certain medical conditions. PM 2.5 levels above 250 micrograms are hazardous for everyone.

The Harvard study found an average secondhand smoke level of 272 micrograms, when the driver's side window was opened slightly. When the car windows were wide open, the average secondhand smoke level was 51 micrograms.

"At 40 miles an hour, on an open road, there's quite a lot of air movement inside the vehicle but that wasn't sufficient to completely remove the secondhand smoke," Rees said. "In other words, the smoke really hangs around."

The Harvard team observed much lower levels of tobacco smoke pollution when the car windows were fully opened, but Rees cautions that this difference should not be interpreted as an effective way to clear secondhand smoke to harmless levels.

In June, a U.S. Surgeon General's report concluded that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke and reiterated that tobacco pollution is linked to sudden infant death syndrome, ear infections and asthma attacks in children.

"There is an argument that even exposure for very short periods of time, perhaps even 10 seconds can precipitate asthmatic episodes in children," Rees said. He added that ventilation won't likely overcome secondhand smoke pollution that sticks to surfaces like child-safety seats.

Andrew Hyland, a tobacco control researcher at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., predicts that the Harvard study will provide new ammunition to smoking-ban proponents. "No one has ever measured just how polluted it can get inside a vehicle," Hyland said.

This year two states -- Arkansas and Louisiana -- adopted private-vehicle smoking bans to protect children from secondhand smoke.

Hyland said: "One of the potential policy remedies is to say you shouldn't smoke in the car when little Johnny is in back in a car seat. But I think there's an equal communication opportunity to tell people whether it's kids, it's your spouse or your best friend -- the exposures are there at hazardous levels, and they are dangerous."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Center for the Advancement of Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Center for the Advancement of Health. "Smoke-filled Cars: New Fodder For The Next Clean Air Fight." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 October 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061003191130.htm>.
Center for the Advancement of Health. (2006, October 4). Smoke-filled Cars: New Fodder For The Next Clean Air Fight. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061003191130.htm
Center for the Advancement of Health. "Smoke-filled Cars: New Fodder For The Next Clean Air Fight." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061003191130.htm (accessed July 26, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath

Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath

AP (July 25, 2014) Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe toured the Cherrystone Family Camping and RV Resort on the Chesapeake Bay today, a day after it was hit by a tornado. The storm claimed two lives and injured dozens of others. (July 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins