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Environmental Tobacco Smoke Characterization and Exposure

Despite smoking bans in many workplaces, environmental tobacco smoke continues to be an important contributor to indoor air pollution in many homes and businesses. Gauging human exposure to ETS can be a complex task. Over the past 14 years, the Group has conducted a number of studies examining the extent to which humans are exposed to ETS as they go about their daily activities. These studies have ben directed toward determination of ETS marker (compounds thatare unique to or indicative of tobacco smoke, such as solanesol, nicotine, or 3-ethenyl pyridine) concentrations in a variety of environments, although there has been increased emphasis in recent years on hospitality venues, such as bars and restaurants. The Group has conducted a number of landmark studies, including the first major study of personal exposure of wait staff and bartenders, the first examination of day to day variability in workplace exposure, and the famous 16 Cities Study, that determined workplace and away from work exposures in nearly 100 subjects recruited in each of 16 cities across the continental United States.

Some key findings from these studies include

  1. personal exposure to ETS in workplaces is generally lower than believed based on limited studies conducted previously;
  2. salivary cotinine, a major metabolite of nicotine, in non-smoking individuals exposed to ETS is not a good quantitative indicator of exposure;
  3. in addition, models used to estimate exposure of non-smokers to airborne nicotine, based on nicotine metabolism in smokers, do not provide accurate estimates;
  4. exposures of wait staff in restaurants where smoking is permitted are lower than those of individuals living with smoking spouses;
  5. day to day variation in unrestricted workplace exposure may be on the order of 50%.

More information can be found in the publications and presentations below.

For information, contact Roger Jenkins.


Environmental Mass Spectrometry Group R&D

Provided by Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Chemical Sciences Division
Rev: April 2005