Monday, March 29, 2004

American Cancer Society AQ study originally hosted on Roswell Park site

(American Cancer Society air quality test results backed up on our server)

Survey of Air Quality in Local Worksites Demonstrates Need for Stronger Clean Air Laws

NEWS from the American Cancer Society

October 30, 2002


Survey of Air Quality in Local Worksites Demonstrates Need for Stronger Clean Air Laws

AMHERST, NY. Workers in bars, restaurants and other worksites not covered by smoke-free laws are exposed to unacceptably high levels of toxins found in secondhand smoke, according to a new study, released today by the American Cancer Society and funded by the Erie/Niagara Tobacco Free Coalition.

“We know that people who work in bars and restaurants, where smoking is allowed, are more likely to get lung cancer,” said Dr. Andrew Hyland of Roswell Park Cancer Institute, who coordinated the study. “But now we have real evidence about how high the average amounts of secondhand smoke exposures can be for some workers in Erie and Niagara counties.”

The study found levels of secondhand smoke exposure was highest in places that have no restrictions on smoking, including stand-alone bars and taverns. Researchers also found elevated levels of exposure to secondhand smoke in places where smoking is only partially restricted, such as bowling alleys and restaurants with bar areas. Even non-smoking sections of restaurants showed elevated levels of secondhand smoke exposure.

“We knew that secondhand smoke is dangerous and that some workers in Erie and Niagara counties aren’t protected by clean air laws,” said Gretchen Leffler, Regional Vice President of the American Cancer Society. “What’s most troubling, is finding out just how much secondhand smoke some people are forced to breathe in just to make a living. This study clearly illustrates exactly why we need stronger clean air laws.”

During July and August, the air in 18 local venues was tested to measure ambient nicotine levels, showing how much secondhand smoke was in the air. Air quality was tested in restaurants with bar areas, restaurants without bar areas, stand alone bars, bowling alleys, bingo halls, and smoke free hospitals in Erie and Niagara Counties. Volunteers collected data by wearing a passive nicotine air monitor while they were in each venue for a minimum of four hours. Monitors were then sealed and sent to a laboratory for analysis to determine the amount of nicotine each monitor was exposed to and results were reported in nanograms per eight hours of exposure.

Secondhand smoke is a known Group A carcinogen, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The government’s Group A rating places secondhand smoke in the same category as asbestos, benzene and radon. Exposure to secondhand smoke is the cause of many health problems in non-smokers including lung cancer, heart disease, asthma, and extreme irritation to mucus membranes in the eyes, nose and throat. Every year, 60,000 otherwise healthy non-smokers die from smoking related illness due to exposure to secondhand smoke.

Results showed that workers in places with no smoking restrictions suffered the most exposure to secondhand smoke. The highest exposure levels were recorded in bingo halls, which averaged 940 nanograms of nicotine per eight-hour shift. Standalone bars and taverns also had high levels of nicotine in the air, averaging 539 nanograms of nicotine per eight-hour shift. Air monitoring conducted in two local bars sponsoring “Marlboro Night” cigarette promotions revealed high levels of smoke pollution averaging 814 nanograms of nicotine per eight-hour exposure.

Venues that have some smoking restrictions fared somewhat better, but still showed measurable levels of secondhand smoke. Workers in bowling alleys were exposed to an average 110 nanograms of nicotine per eight-hour shift. Bar areas of restaurants, which are currently exempt from local clean air laws, showed an average of 80 nanograms per eight hours.

Non-smoking sections in some local restaurants also showed measurable levels of exposure to secondhand smoke. Non-smoking sections of restaurants that allow smoke in their bar areas averaged 30 nanograms per eight hours, while restaurants that installed enclosed smoking areas averaged secondhand smoke exposure at 20 nanograms per eight hours.

The only places that had no measurable exposure to nicotine in the air were places where smoking is completely prohibited. Restaurants without bars in Erie County tested the same as hospitals with non-detectable levels of nicotine in the air.

“Other studies have shown us that restaurant workers, who typically have greater exposure to secondhand smoke, are 50% to 100% more likely to develop lung cancer,” said Leffler. “Until today, not much information was available on how much secondhand smoke different types of workers are exposed too. We hope that seeing this data will make people stop, before they light up, and think about how many other people they’re harming.”

“This study demonstrates what many have suggested,” summarized Dr. Hyland. “The only way to ensure that workers will not be forced to breathe in dangerous secondhand smoke is to eliminate smoking at their work site.”

Funding for the study was proved by a grant from the Erie/Niagara Tobacco Free Coalition. Contributors from the study were Andrew Hyland, PhD, Joseph Bauer, PhD, and Michael Cummings, PhD, MPH from Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Catherine Vladutiu from the American Cancer Society.

The American Cancer Society is the nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives and diminishing suffering from cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. For information about cancer, call toll-free anytime 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit the American Cancer Society website at

Roswell Park Cancer Institute, founded in 1898, is the nation’s first cancer research, treatment and education center, and is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in Western New York. For more information visit our website at

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