Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

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

05.10.2006
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:
http://www.cfah.org

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht A promising target for kidney fibrosis
21.04.2017 | Brigham and Women's Hospital

nachricht Stem cell transplants: activating signal paths may protect from graft-versus-host disease
20.04.2017 | Technische Universität München

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: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor

24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanoimprinted hyperlens array: Paving the way for practical super-resolution imaging

24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>