Children can be exposed to 60 times the concentration of second-hand
smoke in cars than indoors
TORONTO, Feb. 15 /CNW/ - New research shows that the concentration of
second-hand smoke (SHS) particles in a car can be up to 60 times higher than
concentrations indoors, more than double previous findings. Ontario doctors
believe this research and other recent findings on in-car smoke concentrations
will aid the government in moving quickly to implement a provincial ban on
smoking in vehicles when children are present.
"We now have new evidence showing the harmful levels of second-hand smoke
in a car are even more potent than we once believed," said Dr. Janice Willett,
President of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA). "These important findings
should be heard by both caregivers who smoke and our lawmakers so that
children can be protected."
Since the release of the OMA policy paper, Exposure to Second-Hand Smoke:
Are we protecting our kids? in 2004, new research has been undertaken
resulting in even more compelling evidence about the concentrations of
second-hand smoke in vehicles. As a result, the OMA is urging provincial
leaders to review this new information and act immediately to protect the
health of children.
Studies show that even under the best-case ventilation scenario, with
windows open and the fan on high, SHS concentrations in a vehicle are far
greater than any other children's environment. Tests reveal that with no
ventilation, which is typical of winter driving in Ontario, SHS particle
levels can be up to 60 times higher than in a smoke-free home.
"As doctors we have to diagnose and treat so many preventable illnesses
and diseases due to second-hand smoke," said Dr. Willett. "Our government has
the power to protect children from a highly toxic environment and we hope they
take action soon."
Studies have also shown that within tobacco smoke there are a number of
well known poisons including, carbon monoxide (CO), which can reach
concentrations more than double Health Canada's acceptable exposure range.
There is also evidence that CO blood levels can rise more than four-fold in a
non-smoker, when someone else in the car is smoking.
For children, the risks associated with SHS include respiratory illnesses
(asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia), middle ear disease, lower respiratory
tract infections, as well as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and increased
incidences of cancer and heart disease in adulthood.
In December 2007, Nova Scotia became the first province in Canada to pass
legislation banning smoking in cars with children. Most recently, British
Columbia announced that it will be introducing similar legislation. This
follows on the heals of a growing list of U.S. jurisdictions that have already
implemented bans including California; Arkansas; Louisiana; Bangor, Maine;
Keyport, New Jersey; and Rockland County. South Australia has also taken
action to protect children from the dangers of SHS in vehicles.
"The provincial government has shown tremendous leadership in protecting
the public and workers from second-hand smoke, now it is time that our
political leaders work together to further protect the health of Ontario's
children," said Dr. Willett. "In addition to protecting children, it is also
necessary to ensure that those who smoke have access to the medications
necessary to curb their tobacco cravings while driving with children, and
ultimately quit altogether."
Backgrounder - Tobacco Smoke Concentrations in Cars
Since the release of the 2004 OMA paper, Exposure to Second-Hand Smoke:
Are We Protecting Our Kids? significant research has been undertaken and there
is now more compelling evidence to present about comparative concentrations of
second-hand smoke (SHS) in vehicles.
There have been numerous studies that have tested in-car SHS
concentrations in virtually every conceivable smoking scenario - windows open,
partially open, closed, one window partially open, vents on or off, heat, air
conditioning, recirculation, the speed of the vehicle, the number of
cigarettes, the smoker, etc. One study looked at 100 different air change rate
measurements on four vehicles.(1)
These in-car smoking experiments have been compared with similar air
quality tests in smoker's homes, smoke-free homes, smoke-filled bars and
ambient outdoor air. The findings are clear. Under all ventilation
circumstances, even with windows open and the fan on high, SHS concentrations
in a vehicle are greater than in any other micro-environment.
Respirable particles in SHS - Key findings:
- In 2005, The State of California's Air Resources Board (CARB)
compared a large number of studies measuring SHS particle
concentrations in different environments and found that in-car
concentrations, with smoking and no ventilation were up to 60 times
greater than in a smoke-free home, and up to 27 times greater than
in a smoker's home.(2)
- The research shows that even under full ventilation, interior
respirable particle concentrations were at least 13 times that of
the outdoor concentration. With no ventilation, these particle
concentrations reached levels as high as 300 times the outdoor
- Detailed SHS concentration studies conducted in a minivan showed
that "the particle exposure for an average 5 hour automobile trip,
with two cigarettes smoked per hour, would be 25 times higher than
the same exposure scenario in a residence."(4)
- Another comparison used field measurements to compare SHS particle
concentrations in a vehicle, with those in a bar (when smoking was
still allowed). In-vehicle concentrations were 20-times greater than
inside the bar.(5)
Formaldehyde in SHS - Key Findings:
- The CARB also looked at Formaldehyde concentrations from cigarettes
in vehicles. In the US, the recommended maximum occupational level
for formaldehyde is 0.1 ppm. In-vehicle formaldehyde concentration
tests found levels could reach 0.33 ppm after only one cigarette.(6)
Carbon Monoxide in SHS - Key findings:
- Studies have found that approximately 66 mg. of carbon monoxide (CO)
are emitted per cigarette smoked.(7)
- Testing CO concentrations in vehicles in which there was smoking
found that concentrations could reach as high as 63.3 ppm with very
limited circulation.(8) This is more that double Health Canada's
"Acceptable Short-Term Exposure Range for CO" which is a maximum
one-hour average of 25 ppm.
- Carbon monoxide in the blood, represented by carboxyhemoglobin
(COHb) levels, was measured for both the active and passive smoker
in a vehicle and both increased significantly. The COHb level in the
non-smoker (passively breathing the smoker's SHS) rose from 2 ppm to
9.2 ppm after the passenger had smoked 3 cigarettes.(9)
(1) Wayne Ott, Neil Klepeis and Paul Switzer, "Air change rates of motor
vehicles and in-vehicle pollutant concentrations from secondhand
smoke". Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology,
18 July 2007; doi: 10.1038/sj.jes.7500601
(2) Proposed Identification of Environmental Tobacco Smoke as a Toxic Air
Contaminant, California Environmental Protection Agency: Air
Resources Board, June 24, 2005.
(3) Ott, Klepeis, Switzer. 2007.
(5) Klepeis N.E., Nelson W.C., Ott W.R., Robinson J.P., Tsang A.M.,
Switzer P., Behar J.V., Hern S.C., Englemann W.H. (2001a). The
National Human Activity Pattern Survey (NHAPS): A resource for
assessing exposure to environmental pollutants. J Expos Anal Environ
Epidemiol. Vol. 11, pp. 231-252.
(6) Park J., Spengler J.D., Yoon D., Dumyahn T., Lee K., Vzkaynak H.
(1998). Measurement of air exchange rate of stationary vehicles and
estimation of in-vehicle exposure. J Expos Anal Environ Epidemiol.
Vol. 8, pp. 65-78.
(7) Ott W, Langan L, Switzer P, A Time Series Model for Cigarette Smoking
Activity Patterns: Model Validation For Carbon Monoxide and
Respirable Particles In A Chamber And An Automobile. Journal of
Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology, Vol. 2, Supl 2, pp.
175-200. 1992 ISSN: 1053-4245
For further information:
For further information: OMA Media Relations at (416) 340-2862 or toll
free at 1-800-268-7215