Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Secondhand smoke in cars may lead to dangerous levels of contaminants for children

09.10.2006
Study found concentrations rated 'hazardous' by EPA

Secondhand tobacco smoke (SHS) can have harmful effects on children. Some of the adverse health outcomes include a greater likelihood of ear infections, lower respiratory infections, sudden infant death syndrome and severity of asthma symptoms. It is estimated that 35% to 45% of children are regularly exposed to SHS from adults using tobacco in homes and cars. To date, there has been little research on SHS in cars.

In the first study to measure SHS in cars in real driving conditions, Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers have shown that smoking in cars can produce unsafe levels of SHS. Even with the driver's window slightly open, mean respirable suspended particles (RSP) concentrations hit levels rated "hazardous" by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In the study, concentrations of 272 µg/m3 were measured, with a peak level of 505 µg/m3. In comparison, the EPA's air quality index rates concentrations of more than 40 µg/m3 as "unhealthy for sensitive groups," such as children and the elderly, and more than 250 µg/m3 as "hazardous" for the general population. The results showed that smoking a single cigarette for just five minutes could produce potentially harmful RSP levels. Given the levels the researchers observed, SHS in cars poses a potentially serious threat to children's health.

The authors hope that their findings will encourage renewed efforts to promote smoke-free environments for children both in cars and homes. The study will be published in the November 2006 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and is available online now at http://www.ajpm-online.net/webfiles/images/journals/amepre/1751.pdf.

SHS is associated with adverse effects in adults as well, including cancers, cardiovascular disease and reproductive and respiratory problems. However, SHS may have more harmful effects on children because their immune systems are less mature and, due to smaller airways and greater demand for oxygen, they may be more vulnerable to respiratory diseases.

The researchers, Vaughan Rees, research associate, and Gregory Connolly, professor of the practice of public health, both in HSPH's Division of Public Health Practice, recruited volunteers to smoke while driving vehicles in Boston city traffic. In 45 driving trials, which averaged about an hour, SHS measurements were taken using devices that could detect and measure respirable suspended particles (RSPs) of less than 2.5 microns in diameter and carbon monoxide (CO), a poisonous gas. RSPs, which are found in tobacco smoke, are small enough to be inhaled and can transport carcinogens and other toxic substances deep into the lungs. Respiratory illnesses like bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma are linked to exposure to RSPs. The measurement devices were positioned in an empty child restrainer seat at simulated head level. Measurements were obtained under two different ventilation conditions: all car windows rolled down, then with just the driver's side window cracked about two inches.

"The smoke particle levels we measured are alarming and are above the threshold for what's considered unhealthy for sensitive groups -- people like children and the elderly," said lead study author Rees. "Adults who smoke while driving their children may be harming them more than they realize."

Driving under closed-windows conditions generated the highest RSP and CO levels. But the levels of contaminants during open-windows conditions, though significantly less than when the windows were closed, were still unsafe. "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.

"Toxic particles from secondhand smoke can settle on furniture or on floors, and we are assuming that will also occur in cars on child-restraint seats. Children tend to touch things with their hands, and put their hands in their mouths. So children can also be exposed to contaminants in that way," Rees said.

Arkansas and Louisiana have recently banned smoking in cars with young children as passengers. Similar legislation has also been introduced, but not passed, in California, Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont. Although concerns have been raised about government intrusion on personal privacy, supporters of smoking bans note that SHS is dangerous to children's health and that the use of safety devices such as seat belts and infant car seats are already widely legislated.

"We know from previous research that smoking indoors can produce dangerous levels of toxic contaminants," said Reese. "This research has shown that smoking in cars, even with the windows open, can produce smoke pollution that compares with smoky bars or restaurants. Unlike adults, children cannot advocate for smoke-free spaces and are sometimes physically restrained in very smoky cars. We think that policymakers and health advocates should pay close attention to these findings in order to promote smoke-free domestic environments for children."

Todd Datz | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Penn vet research identifies new target for taming Ebola
12.01.2017 | University of Pennsylvania

nachricht The strange double life of Dab2
10.01.2017 | University of Miami Miller 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: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multiregional brain on a chip

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans

16.01.2017 | Information Technology

Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>