9. Involuntary Smoking
The effects of smoking on the smoker has been extensively studied, but the effects of tobacco smoke on nonsmokers has only recently received much attention. The chemical constituents found in an atmosphere filled with tobacco smoke are derived from two sources—mainstream and sidestream smoke. Mainstream smoke emerges from the tobacco product after being drawn through the tobacco during puffing. Sidestream smoke rises from the burning cone of tobacco. Mainstream and sidestream smoke contribute different concentrations of many substances to the atmosphere for several reasons. Different amounts of tobacco are consumed in the production of mainstream and sidestream smoke; the temperature of combustion differs for tobacco during puffing or while smouldering; and certain substances are partially absorbed from the mainstream smoke by the smoker.
A major concern about atmospheric contamination by cigarette smoke has been due to the production of significant levels of carbon monoxide. Cigarette smoking in poorly-ventilated, enclosed spaces may generate carbon monoxide levels above the acceptable 8-hour industrial exposure limits of 50 parts per million. Exposure to this level of carbon monoxide even for short periods of time has been shown to reduce significantly the exercise tolerance of some persons with symptomatic cardiovascular disease. There is also some evidence that prolonged exposure to this level of carbon monoxide in combination with a high-cholesterol diet can enhance experimental atherosclerosis in animals.
Sitting next to a smoker, a nonsmoker can be exposed to carbon monoxide levels more than twice as high as the maximum set for industry exposure. When nonsmokers leave a smoky environment, it takes hours for the carbon monoxide to leave their bodies. Unlike oxygen, which is breathed in and then out again in minutes, carbon monoxide in the blood lasts for hours. After three or four hours, half of the excess carbon monoxide is still in the bloodstream. Not enough research has been done on other toxic substances inhaled by nonsmokers in the presence of smoke: formaldehyde, oxides of nitrogen, ammonia, cadmium, hydrogen cyanide, pyrene, and hundreds more.
In a room filled with tobacco smoke, people experience eye irritations and distress. Contamination and odors are immediately created by such elements in tobacco smoke as ammonia and pyridine. (Pyridine is a strong irritant produced when nicotine burns).
The contamination in smoky rooms is so intense that when someone lights a cigarette, cigar, or pipe in an air-conditioned place, the air-conditioning demands can jump as much as 600 percent. Another finding from air-conditioning research is that the human body attracts tobacco smoke. Burning tobacco creates a high-electrical potential, whereas the water-filled body has a low one; so smoke in a room gravitates and clings to people.
The effect of involuntary smoking on an individual is determined not only by the quantity and toxicity of the smoke-filled environment, but also largely by the characteristics of the individual. This does not mean that all are not poisoned by this smoke but the more toxic that an individual is, the more pronounced his symptoms will be upon being exposed to this smoke. The severity of possible effects range from minor eye and throat irritations experienced by most people in smoke-filled rooms, to the anginal attacks of some persons with cardiovascular disease.
A substantial proportion of the U.S. population suffers from chronic cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases due to generally unhealthful diet and other poor living habits. It is this segment of the population most seriously jeopardized by conditions found in involuntary smoking situations. It may be “the last straw that broke the camel’s back.” The body could not tolerate the extra toxins that were being imposed upon it.
Persons with chronic bronchitis and emphysema nave considerable excess mortality under conditions of severe air pollution. In smoke-filled environments, levels of carbon monoxide and several other pollutants may be as high or higher than occur during air pollution emergencies. The effects of short-term exposure of persons with chronic obstructive bronchopulmonary disease to these conditions have not been evaluated.
- 1. History
- 2. The Tobacco Plant
- 3. The Dangers Are Realized
- 4. Tobacco Toxins
- 5. Cigarette Smoking And Chronic Disease
- 6. Added Industrial Pollutants
- 7. Tobacco Subsidies
- 8. Effects On Fetus And Children
- 9. Involuntary Smoking
- 10. Live Healthfully
- 11. Eliminating The Smoking Habit
- 12. Questions & Answers
- Article #1: A Small Fire at One End and a Big Fool at the Other By Dr. Keki R. Sidhwa, N.D., D.O.