Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Apparently the St. Louis Park, MN. secondhand smoke air quality testing program.........

..... results page was inadvertently (I'm sure) removed from their website. No need to worry though, I expected that and saved a backup copy. I know you folks at MPAAT, the American Lung as well as Bloomington city council and Robert Wood Johnson will be relieved to know that.

Here is the St. Louis Park, MN. Environmental Health Department secondhand smoke air quality test results in a side by side comparison to the OSHA permissible exposure limits table.

1 milligram mg = 1,000 micrograms ug
(full OSHA table can be found here)

St. Louis Park readings are in micrograms (ug). (Click to enlarge)

The upper table is the actual OSHA permissible exposure limit table for airborne contaminants ie. these levels are the safe exposure limits for humans. You'll note that the nicotine* safe level is 0.5 milligrams mg / cu. M (or 500 micrograms (ug) / cu. M).

The bottom table is the St. Louis Park test results for 19 smoking establishments of measured airborne nicotine* levels during busy evenings. You can see the median establishment, Applebees, had a reading of 3.3 micrograms ug / cu. M.

500 ug (OSHA safe level) divided by 3.3 ug (median reading Applebees) = measured airborne nicotine* levels are 152 times safer than OSHA regulations ie. In other words NO HEALTH HAZARD as per OSHA workplace indoor air quality standards.

It is therefore impossible to implement smoking bans based on the argument that secondhand smoke is a health hazard, that argument has been scientifically proven false and is therefore disingenuous.

* (As per air quality researchers) Nicotine is the only unique or "trace" chemical in secondhand smoke. If you measured for formaldehyde, the carpet and other interior sources of formaldehyde would corrupt the test result, formaldehyde is formed naturally in our atmosphere due to photochemical oxidation. Benzene is given off from burning foods in the kitchen or diesel exhaust outdoors so again a false reading would be obtained. Therefore, nicotine is the ideal chemical to measure for to determine secondhand smoke concentrations in the air. And then our comparison to OSHA guidelines is the logical manner in which to determine if secondhand smoke levels pose a health hazard, as you can see, they do not. If you wanted you could measure every airborne chemical in secondhand smoke and then also compare them to OSHA guidelines for each specific chemical, the results would be the same.

Smoking cigarettes can be hazardous to the smoker, no argument there. However, secondhand smoke is not hazardous to anyone, except of course to those who rely on Nicoderm interests for further funding.

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