Airports with designated indoor smoking areas pose the risk of secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure for workers and travelers, according to research published in the Nov. 20 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report.
Brian King, Ph.D., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues assessed indoor air quality (measured by respirable suspended particulates [RSPs]) at the five large-hub U.S. airports with designated indoor smoking areas as well as at four large-hub U.S. airports that prohibit smoking in all indoor areas.
The researchers found that the average level of RSPs in the smoking-permitted areas of these five airports was 16 times the average level in nonsmoking areas (boarding gate seating sections) and 23 times the average level of RSPs in the smoke-free airports. In areas adjacent to the smoking-permitted areas, the average RSP level was four times the average level in nonsmoking areas of the airports with designated smoking areas and five times the average level of smoke-free airports.
“Smoke-free policies at the state, local, or airport authority levels can eliminate involuntary exposure to SHS inside airports and protect employees and travelers of all ages from SHS,” King and colleagues conclude.