They confirm that smoking inside the car is alarmingly harmful

A recent cross-sectional study yields alarming results on the exposure to tobacco smoke in automobiles in Spain and the UK. Environmental tobacco smoke is highly harmful to the health of non-smokers, especially when they are in closed vehiclesaccording to research coordinated by the Barcelona Public Health Agency (ASPB) with the participation of the Network Biomedical Research Center (CIBER) and published in the journal Environmental Research.

Secondhand tobacco smoke is the smoke that a person exhales when smoking and is inhaled by people nearby who are not smoking. The health risks to those exposed to secondhand smoke in automobiles are much greater than in other indoor areas, even though exposure periods are often short. The results of the research, carried out within the framework of the TackSHS project and led by Mª Jose Lopezprincipal investigator of the Epidemiology and Public Health area of ​​CIBER (CIBERESP) and the ASPB, show that there is a clear danger to the health of non-smokers, especially children, when smoking is allowed inside the vehicle.

The study, carried out between April 2017 and August 2018, recruited a sample of drivers in Spain and the United Kingdom and is the first study in Europe to monitor exposure to environmental and residual tobacco smoke in private vehicles of smokers and non-smokers.

Of the 45 cars analyzed, it was found that the “airborne nicotine concentrations”, an indicator of tobacco smoke exposure, were worryingly high in vehicles owned by smokers. In addition, high concentrations of residual tobacco smoke compounds, a more recent term referring to the residue and toxic particles left on car surfaces and dust, were also found after the tobacco smoke has been exhausted. dissipated.

The study found that concentrations of all smog compounds in cars where drivers reported smoking inside were up to six times higher than in non-smoking cars. For its part, the scientific community confirms that non-smokers who are exposed to tobacco smoke on a daily basis have up to 20% increased risk of lung cancer and a 25% higher risk of heart attack.

It is necessary to protect minors who travel with smokers

Regarding the methodology used in the research, among the 30 participants in Spain, exposure to residual tobacco smoke (THS) was measured in a subsample of 20 vehicles (4 owned by non-smokers, 8 owned by smokers who do not smoke inside the car and 8 smokers who smoke inside the car).

Ambient nicotine was measured by monitors hung from the roof of the vehicle during the trips. In addition, dust samples were taken from the front seats, rear seats, floor mats, carpets, gear shift area, and dashboard using a conventional vacuum cleaner.

After the travel sampling period, participants completed a form with sociodemographic information, smoking patterns, and other characteristics of car trips.

Air nicotine samples taken during 24-hour measurements yielded median concentrations below the limit of quantification in non-smoking cars (n = 20), 0.23 μg/m3, in non-smoking cars inside (n = 15), and 3.53 μg/m3 in cars of smokers who smoke inside (n = 10).

On the other hand, air nicotine samples measured only during driving yielded significantly higher median concentrations in cars with smokers who smoke inside (21.44 μg/m3), than in cars with non-smokers inside. interior, and in those of non-smokers. Finally, no significant differences were found by country.

Exposure to secondhand smoke in cars is four times higher than in other indoor areas, such as smokers’ homes

According to Dr. López: “the toxic compounds released by the deposited nicotine, such as tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs), pose a long-term carcinogenic risk to those exposed.” However, despite the growing evidence of the dangers associated with exposure to environmental and residual tobacco smoke in private vehicles, regulation in Spain is clearly insufficient.

Unlike other countries, where there is a regulation that prohibits smoking in cars in the presence of minorsin Spain there is no national law that prohibits smoking in private vehicles.

Xavier Continentfirst author of the study and researcher at the ASPB and CIBERESP, points out that “the study shows the need for greater public awareness about the risks of tobacco smoke in vehicles, and we also want to highlight the importance of implementing effective regulatory measures to protect the health of non-smokers, especially minors.

The research has also had the collaboration of Noelia Ramírez, a researcher from a group of the CIBER area of ​​Diabetes and Associated Metabolic Diseases (CIBERDEM), of the research group of Esteve Fernández, of the CIBER area of ​​Respiratory Diseases (CIBERES), of the Institute Catalan Institute of Oncology and the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL). Fernández is the coordinator of the European TackSHS project, under whose framework this study is carried out.

Source: CIBER and ASPB


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