By Jason Bennert
A group of Stanford researchers have concluded that nonsmokers face significant secondhand smoke exposure when around smokers even outdoors.
“We were surprised to discover that being within a few feet of a smoker outdoors may expose you to air pollution levels that are comparable, on average, to indoor levels that we measured in previous studies of homes and taverns,” study and co-author and Stanford consulting professor of civil and environmental engineering Wayne Ott said.
“For example, if you’re at a sidewalk cafi, and you sit within 18 inches of a person who smokes two cigarettes over the course of an hour, your exposure to secondhand smoke could be the same as if you sat one hour inside a tavern with smokers,” Ott said.
“Based on our findings, a child in close proximity to adult smokers at a backyard party also could receive substantial exposure to secondhand smoke.”
The study also found that proximity makes all of the difference when it comes to secondhand smoke.
“Our data also show that if you move about six feet away from an outdoor smoker, your exposure levels are much lower,” study co-author and Stanford consulting professor of civil and environmental engineering Neil Klepeis said.
In the study, the researchers used portable electronic monitors to make precise measurements of toxic airborne particles emitted from cigarettes at 10 sites near the Stanford campus. The study appears in the May issue of the Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association.
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