Second-hand smoke in bars, restaurants extremely hazardous

February 17th, 2010 - 3:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 17 (IANS) Concentrations of second-hand tobacco smoke, inhaled in smoking rooms of restaurants and bars, are exceptionally high and hazardous to health, says a new finding.
The study by the Oklahoma Tobacco Research Centre (OTRC) shows the average particulate level measured in restaurant smoking rooms was beyond the hazardous extreme, based on levels established by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

“These levels are exceptionally high and not healthy for the employees and patrons exposed to particles found in second-hand smoke,” said Heather Basara, industrial hygienist and lead study investigator.

Tobacco smoke level evaluation was based on measurements of very fine suspended particulates in the air, particles smaller than 2.5 microns (millionths of a metre), or which come primarily from tobacco smoke.

Levels averaged 380 micrograms per cubic metre of air in the restaurant smoking rooms tested, and 655 micrograms per cubic metre of air. Restaurants with no smoking averaged just 26 micrograms per cubic metre of air.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scale ranks outdoor levels of particulate pollution as “unhealthy” at 66-150, “very unhealthy” at 151-250, and “hazardous” at higher concentrations such as the levels found in the Oklahoma restaurant smoking rooms and bars tested for this report, said a centre release.

Robert McCaffree, co-director of OTRC, said: “Second-hand smoke exposure is a serious health hazard, accounting for approximately 700 deaths a year in Oklahoma, mostly from heart disease - including heart attacks - and lung cancer.”

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