Think Before You Light Up

Published Online: Thursday, May 1, 2003

Parents are kidding themselves if they think that smoking outdoors does not impact their children?s health, especially if they have children with asthma, according to the findings of the first study ever to measure the dose-related effects of parents? cigarette smoke on their children.

The study was made possible because of a newly developed portable monitor capable of registering air pollutants in levels < 2.5 mcg in size. The monitor was small enough for the 40 children in the study, who had moderate-to-severe asthma, to wear daily for 4 months. During the study, the children took a lung function test

2 times a day. After comparing the lung function tests of the participants, Nathan Rabinovitch, MD, lead author, determined that "Children who lived in a smoking household registered significantly higher levels of ?particulate matter? in their lungs?a measure of pollution-related damage?than children of nonsmoking parents." In addition, children whose parents smoke outside were exposed to 30% less damaging lung particles than those whose families smoked indoors. He said, however, that their rate of exposure was still significantly higher than that of nonsmokers?up to 70% higher.

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