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August 5, 2010 - It can take just two people to smoke in alfresco (taking place outdoors) areas to put non-smokers at risk of developing respiratory problems, Perth researchers have found.
Curtin University, the University of Western Australia and the Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH) conducted air quality tests at 28 cafes and pubs across Perth. In determining the health risk to non-smokers, researchers used a particle monitor to measure how many microscopic air pollutants the same size as tobacco smoke particles were in the air.
Curtin University Professor of Health Policy Mike Daube said the research revealed that even in outdoor, well-ventilated areas, second-hand smoke (SHS, passive smoking, environemntal tobacco smoke, ETS, involuntary smoking, sidestream smoke) a presented a health risk. Prof. Daube said the tests found that when there was no one smoking tobacco, smoke particle concentrations were about four micrograms per cubic metre of air. When at least one person began smoking that number increased to 14.25 micrograms per cubic metre of air. "The amount of second-hand smoke detected increased with the number of people smoking," he said.
Curtin researcher Julia Stafford said the findings backed legislation which comes into effect in September this year and which will restrict smoking in alfresco areas.
"This research supports smoking bans in areas where people may spend extended periods of time, such as outdoor eating and drinking venues," she said.
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"While the new regulations on alfresco smoking are an important step forward, we urge all venues to go 100 per cent smoke-free to protect the health of their staff and customers."
This reinforces the finding in a peer-reviewed study by Stanford University that demonstrated "under certain conditions, and these were not uncommon, you can be exposed to the same level of second-hand smoke particles outside as you can inside. (Study confirms the risk of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke at sidewalk cafes and other outdoor settings by Mark Shwartz, Stanford News Release, 5/2/2007)
Bar Chart - even a small amount of SHS can be dangerous..
Reference: Second-hand smoke risk in alfresco areas, © 2010 AAP, The Sydney Morning Herald, 8/4/2010.
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