Oddly, what in almost any scenario would be considered blockbuster news wasn’t included in the study abstract, nor was it mentioned in the press release. The study, conducted by researchers from San Diego State University, was funded by a grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (part of the National Institutes of Health). The goal was to specify the main sources of indoor air pollution and air quality in homes.
300 homes studied
Researchers looked at 300 family homes in San Diego. All of the homes studied had at least one smoker and one child under age 14. The scientists installed particle monitors in two locations in each home.
For three months, the monitors measured the amount of fine particles in household air. The monitors transmitted the data to the research team.
Particles measured were between 0.5 and 2.5 micrometers in diameter. Typically, particles in that size range come from smoke and other products of combustion (fungal spores and auto emissions are other sources).
Secondhand smoke is a problem
The problem with these particles is that they’re small enough to be inhaled deep into the lungs, where they can causing breathing and cardiovascular problems. That’s how secondhand smoke affects those who live with smokers.
Graduate student John Bellettiere, a co-author of the study, said,
Our primary goal was to figure out what’s happening in houses that leads to higher air particle levels and, in turn, to unhealthy environments for kids.
The researchers also interviewed the participants to ask what activities were occurring at certain times.
The study’s lead author, environmental scientist Neil Kelpeis, explained,
The aim of our research is, ultimately, to find effective ways to promote smoke-free homes and also to find good strategies, in general, for reducing exposure to household pollution. The findings from our work will allow for better education and feedback to families.
Particle level doubles in smokers’ homes
Strikingly, the particle level almost doubled in homes where smokers lit up inside, as opposed to homes where smokers stepped outside. Cigarettes were the worst offenders, but cannabis smoke had a big effect too, which seemed to surprise the researchers. (The jury’s still out, of course, on whether there’s any actual harm in inhaling cannabis smoke since it appears not to be correlated with cancer or respiratory impairment.)
Candles, incense, fireplaces, dusting, spray cleaners, and frying with oil also increased particle levels and decreasing air quality.
But vaping has no impact on air quality
But in the 14.1 percent of homes where e-cigarettes were used, the particle counts were indistinguishable from those where no vaping took place, according to the researchers:
We observed no apparent difference in the weekly mean particle distribution between 43 homes reporting any electronic cigarette usage and those reporting none.
You’d think that blockbuster of a sentence might merit at least a follow-up, especially since other studies have had similar results. But, no. That was all the researchers said about vaping. Hmm!