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Smokers' cars top pollution zones

2012-10-23 07:38

MORE HARMFUL THAN YOU THINK: Second-hand smoke inside a car, even with the windows open, could still lead to dangerously high air-pollution levels.

Smoking might be outlawed in most closed public spaces but smokers still have the luxury of lighting up in their home and car although a study has found levels of air pollution inside the cars of smoking drivers to be “extremely unhealthy”.

Consumer Reports reported on a study conducted by British researchers and published in the journal Tobacco Control in which more than 100 car trips made by 17 drivers – 14 of whom were smokers – were evaluated.


Thirty-four of the trips were smoke-free and averaged air pollution levels of about 7.4 micrograms/cubic metre (µg/m3). The safe level of air pollution, as recommended by the United Nations’ World Health Organisation is 25µg/m3, Consumer Reports said.

In trips with smoking drivers, however, the level of air pollution within the cabin averaged 85µg/m3.

The levels of pollutants in the car’s cabin varied based on the number of cigarettes smoked and the length of the trip. It was also found that even with the car’s air conditioning system working or the windows open for ventilation, passengers were still exposed to air pollution levels that exceeded the WHO’s guidelines.

One car tested returned a reading as high as 880µg/m3, scientists said.

The study’s authors further noted: "Children are likely to be at greater risk from [secondhand smoke] exposure due to their faster breathing rates, less developed immune system and their inability to move away from the source in many home and car settings.”

Read more on:    smoking  |  air pollution

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