Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Smoke-filled cars: New fodder for the next clean air fight

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."

Lisa Esposito | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia
21.10.2016 | Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg

nachricht New potential cancer treatment using microwaves to target deep tumors
12.10.2016 | University of Texas at Arlington

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>