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 Researchers release the brakes on the immune system
18.10.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht Norovirus evades immune system by hiding out in rare gut cells
12.10.2017 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

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: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electrode materials from the microwave oven

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

New material for digital memories of the future

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Physics boosts artificial intelligence methods

19.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>