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Smoking in cars ‘breaks toxic limit’
Smoking inside a vehicle creates pollution that breaks official safe limits – even with the windows open – according to new research.
The Tobacco Control journal reported a group of Scottish scientists recording harmful gas levels during 85 car journeys found readings exceeded World Health Organisation restrictions.
Scientists used a device located in the back seats of the test car – where a small child may typically sit – to document and analyse air quality readings over a number of journeys ranging from 10 minutes to one hour in length.
During 49 of the 85 experimental trips the driver smoked up to four cigarettes – unsurprisingly, it was over these 49 journeys that “fine particulate matter exceeded 85 micrograms per cubic metre, more than three times higher than the WHO’s safe indoor air quality limit of 25 micrograms per cubic metre.”
It was also found that with the windows wide open and with only one cigarette smoked by the driver, particulate matter levels still exceed the safe maximum at some point during the trip.
On average, the level of second-hand smoke was between one third and one half of that measured in a typical bar prior to the UK public smoking ban being enforced.
Compare that to the average 7.4 micrograms of particulates per cubic metre of air during the 34 non-smoking journeys and it shows how passive smoking can affect the health of vulnerable individuals, such as children.
“Children are particularly at risk to toxic fumes given off by cigarette smoke due to faster respiratory rates and a less developed immune system than adults,” says Dr Sean Semple of the University of Aberdeen.
Combined with the fact infants are unable to escape situations in which they are forced to smoke passively, smoking in a vehicle with your children present can seriously risk their health.
The latest study into the risks of smoking inside a vehicle has called for a rethink on legislation surrounding smoking in cars. Currently, it is legal in the UK, although the British Medical Association says all smoking in cars should be banned.
Smokers’ lobby group Forest has protested at proposals to prohibit smoking in vehicles, however.
84% of adults don’t smoke in their car with children present, according to Forest Director, Simon Clark.
“We are strongly opposed to legislation to ban smoking in cars. Parents must be allowed to use their common sense, and most of the time they do. There is no need for further regulation”, he said.
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