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How Dangerous is Outdoor Second-Hand Smoke?

Indoor smoking bans have forced smokers at bars and restaurants onto outdoor patios, but a new study suggests that these outdoor smoking areas might be creating a new health hazard.

The study, thought to be the first to assess levels of a nicotine byproduct known as cotinine in nonsmokers exposed to second-hand smoke outdoors, found levels up to 162 percent greater than in the control group.

Secondhand smoke contains several known carcinogens, and there may be no safe level of exposure.

Cigarettes are also “widely contaminated” with bacteria, including some known to cause disease in people, according to a new international study.

The research team describes the study as the first to show that cigarettes could be the direct source of exposure to a wide array of potentially pathogenic microbes among smokers and people exposed to secondhand smoke.

Bacteria of medical significance to humans were identified in all of the tested cigarettes and included:

•Acinetobacter (associated with lung and blood infections)
•Bacillus (some varieties associated with food-borne illnesses and anthrax)
•Burkholderia (some forms responsible for respiratory infections)
•Clostridium (associated with food-borne illnesses and lung infections)
•Klebsiella (associated with a variety of lung, blood and other infections)
•Pseudomonas aeruginosa (an organism that causes 10 percent of all hospital-acquired infections in the United States)

Click to see:->Passive smoking a ‘global threat’, WHO warns

Science Blog November 18, 2009
Eurekalert November 19, 2009
Environmental Health Perspectives October 22, 2009
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene November 2009; 6(11):698-704

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Swimming Pools May Cause Allergies or Asthma

Swimming in a chlorinated pool may boost the odds that a child susceptible to asthma and allergies will develop these problems.

Chlorinated pools irritate the airways of swimmers, exerting a strong additive effect on the development of asthma and respiratory allergies such as hay fever and allergic rhinitis.

The impact of chlorinated pools on the respiratory health of children and adolescents appears to be much more important — at least by a factor of five — than that associated with secondhand smoke.

MSNBC September 15, 2009
Pediatrics October 2009;124(4):1110-8

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Are You a Third-hand Smoker?

This photo illustrates smoke in a pub, a commo...
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If you had always thought that puffing is dangerous to only the active and passive smokers, think again, as ‘third hand smoking‘ can even lead to cancer.
The toxic particles emitted in the smoke of a cigarette get clinged to the place you stay much after your cigarette is over and it can very well affect your children’s health as you try to smoke in their absence, a new study said.

“There are carcinogens in this third-hand smoke, and they are a cancer risk for anybody of any age who comes into contact with them, said Philip Landrigan, a pediatrician.
Experts have identified this smoking-related threat to children’s health, which has been termed as third-hand smoke.

“Everyone knows that second-hand smoke is bad, but they don’t know about this,” the lead author of the study, Jonathan P Winickoff, also a pediatrician said.

These toxic particles also remain attached to the smoker’s clothing or hair or upholstery. The residue includes heavy metals, carcinogens and even radioactive materials that young children can get on their hands and ingest, especially if they’re crawling or playing on the floor.

“When their kids are out of the house, they might smoke. Or they smoke in the car. Or they strap the kid in the car seat in the back and crack the window and smoke, and they think it’s okay because the second-hand smoke isn’t getting to their kids,” Dr. Winickoff continued. “We needed a term to describe these tobacco toxins that aren’t visible.”

Doctors from MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston coined the term “third-hand smoke” to describe these chemicals in a new study that focused on the risks they pose to infants and children.

“The central message here is that simply closing the kitchen door to take a smoke is not protecting the kids from the effects of that smoke,” Landrigan said.

Sources: The Times Of India

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Months After Smoking Ban, Heart Attacks Down by 40%

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A smoking ban caused heart attacks to drop by more than 40% in one US city and the decrease lasted three years, federal health experts reported.

Pueblo, Colorado, passed a municipal law making workplaces and public places smoke-free in 2003 and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials tracked hospitalizations for heart attacks afterward.

They found there were 399 hospital admissions for heart attacks in Pueblo in the 18 months before the ban and 237 heart attack hospitalizations in the next year and a half – a decline of 41%.

The effect lasted three years, the team reported in a CDC report. “We know that exposure to second-hand smoke has immediate harmful effects on people’s cardiovascular systems, and that prolonged exposure to it can cause heart disease in nonsmoking adults,” said Janet Collins, director of CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

“This study adds to existing evidence that smoke-free policies can dramatically reduce illness and death from heart disease.”

Long-term exposure to secondhand smoke can raise heart disease rates in adult nonsmokers by 25% to 30%, the CDC says.

Sources: The Times Of India

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Kids of smoking parents have more nicotine

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A new study has found that children, who have at least one smoker parent, have 5.5 times higher levels of cotinine, a byproduct of nicotine, in their urine.


The study, published online ahead of print in Archives of Disease in Childhood, showed that having a smoker mother had the prime independent effect on cotinine in the urine – quadrupling it. Having a smoking father doubled the amount of cotinine, one of chemicals produced when the body breaks down nicotine from inhaled smoke to get rid of it.

The study was led by researchers from the University of Leicester Medical School and was done in collaboration with Warwick University.

Sleeping with parents and lower temperature rooms were also linked to increased amounts of cotinine.

Cotinine was measured in 104 urine samples taken from 12-week old infants. Seventy one of the babies had at least one parent that smoked and the parents of the other 33 were non-smokers.

“Babies affected by smoke tend to come from poorer homes, which may have smaller rooms and inadequate heating. Higher cotinine levels in colder times of year may be a reflection of the other key factors which influence exposure to passive smoking, such as poorer ventilation or a greater tendency for parents to smoke indoors in winter,” the authors said.

Sleeping with a parent is a know risk factor for cot death and the authors suggest that one reason for this could be breathing of, or contact with clothing or other objects contaminated with, smoke particles during sleep.

Nearly 40 percent of under-fives are believed to be exposed to tobacco smoke at home, and smoke may be responsible for up to 6,000 deaths per year in the US alone in young children.

“Babies and children are routinely exposed to cigarette smoking by their caretakers in their homes, without the legislative protection available to adults in public places,” the authors said.

But they admitted that there are realistic difficulties in preventing smoking in private homes because it relies on parents or caretakers being educated about the harmful effects of passive smoking on their children and then acting on that knowledge.

Source:The Times Of India