In recent years, there has been concern that non-smokers may also be at risk for various health conditions that occurs as a result of exposure to the smoke (passive smoking) exhaled by smokers. The latest study which was performed in children further the evidence that children who live in apartments and even if no one smokes at home, they are more exposed to tobacco smoke than the kids who live in separate homes. Such exposure to smoke can cause various health problems in the kids including asthma, respiratory infections, ear infections, attention-deficit disorder, and sudden infant death syndrome according to Matthew L. Myers, the president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. More than half of US children between the ages of 3 and 11 are exposed to second-hand smoke and have elevated levels of cotinine, which is a metabolite specific to tobacco smoke.
About the Study
The lead author Dr. Karen Wilson and colleagues at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York analyzed data from a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) taken between 2001 and 2006. More than 5,000 children between the ages of 6 to 18 were involved in the research, and all lived in smoke-free homes including detached houses, attached homes (such as duplexes), and apartments. The blood tests were performed to check the level of cotinine, an alkaloid found in tobacco and a metabolite of nicotine. NHANES defines tobacco smoke exposure as a serum cotinine level of at least 0.015 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL).
The result of the blood test confirmed that
- More than 84% of children in apartment housing had a higher level...
of tobacco smoke, compared to nearly 80% of children in attached houses and 70% in stand-alone houses.
- Tobacco contaminant levels were highest in children under 12, those who were black, and those living below the federal poverty level.
Researchers suggest that children living in apartments are exposed to higher levels of tobacco smoke because of shared walls, ventilation systems and ductwork. Secondhand smoke can seep through these shared structures and into apartments in which no one smokes inside the home. Secondhand smoke can be absorbed by furniture, carpets, curtains, clothing, toys, and other items that children come into contact with and even put in their mouths.
Parental smoking in the home is the most common source of secondhand smoke exposure, but the study brings some significant findings that children can be exposed to smoke even if their parents do not smoke due to the shared walls, ventilation systems etc. Many parents have no control over whether their children are exposed to secondhand smoke in their own homes. I hope people who smoke should understand the risk of smoking and avoid it in residential areas.