The risk of exposure to tobacco smoke in the car is greater than in other closed spaces | The USA Print

The risk of exposure to tobacco smoke in the car is greater than in other closed spaces

The health risks of those who are exposed to environmental tobacco smoke in automobiles they are a lot greater than in other interior areas, although the periods of exposure are usually short, according to a coordinated investigation from the Public Health Agency of Barcelona (ASPB) with the participation of the Network Biomedical Research Center (CIBER).

“Environmental tobacco smoke is the smoke that a person exhales when smoking and is inhaled by people nearby who are not smoking,” So it is highly detrimental for the health of non-smokers, especially when they are in closed vehicles,” warns the research, which has been published in the journal ‘Environmental Research’, and carried out within the framework of the TackSHS project and led by Maria José López, principal investigator of the Epidemiology and Public Health area of ​​Ciber (Ciberesp) and of the ASPB.

The study, conducted between April 2017 and August 2018, recruited a sample of drivers in Spain and the UK and is the first research in Europe that monitors the exposure to environmental and residual tobacco smoke in private vehicles of smokers and non-smokers.

Of the 45 cars analyzed, it was found that the “air nicotine concentrations”, an indicator of exposure to tobacco smoke, were worryingly high in vehicles owned by smokers.

In addition, it was also discovered high concentrations of residual tobacco smoke compounds, a more recent term that refers to the waste and toxic particles that remain on the surfaces of cars and dust, after the tobacco smoke has dissipated.

It also revealed that the concentrations of all residual smoke compounds in cars where drivers reported smoking inside were up to six times higher to those of non-smoking cars.

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For its part, the scientific community confirms that non-smokers who are exposed to tobacco smoke on a daily basis have up to a 20% risk of cancer of the lung and a 25% risk of heart attack.

30 participants from Spain

Regarding the methodology used in the research, among the 30 participants from Spain, the exposure to residual tobacco smoke (THS) in a subsample of 20 vehicles (4 owned by non-smokers, eight owned by non-in-car smokers, and eight owned by in-car smokers).

Environmental nicotine was measured by monitors hung from the roof of the vehicle during trips. In addition, dust samples were taken from the front seats, rear seats, floor mats, carpets, gear shift area, and dashboard using a conventional vacuum cleaner.

After the period of sampling during travel, participants completed a form with socio-demographic information, smoking patterns and other characteristics of car trips.

The nicotine samples in the air taken during 24 hour measurements yielded median concentrations below the limit of quantification in non-smoking cars (n = 20), 0.23 ug/m3, in non-smoking cars with non-smokers inside (n = 15), and 3.53 ug/m3 in non-smoking cars. cars of smokers who smoke inside (n = 10).

On the other hand, the air nicotine samples measured only while driving they threw median concentrations notably higher in cars with smokers who smoke inside (21.44 ug/m3), than in cars with smokers who do not smoke indoors, and in non-smokers. Finally, no significant differences were found by country.

“Toxic compounds released by deposited nicotine, such as tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs), pose a carcinogenic risk long-term for those who are exposed,” says López.

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However, despite the growing evidence of the dangers associated to exposure to environmental and residual tobacco smoke in private vehicles, regulation in Spain is clearly insufficient.

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Unlike other countries, in which there is a regulation that prohibits smoking in cars in the presence of minors, in Spain there is no national law prohibit smoking in private vehicles.

“The study shows the need for a increased public awareness about the risks of tobacco smoke in vehicles, and we also want to highlight the importance of implement effective regulatory measures to protect the health of non-smokers, especially minors”, says Xavier Continente, first author of the study and researcher at the ASPB and Ciberesp.

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