• Vol. 38 No. 3, 202–206
  • 15 March 2009

Global Air Monitoring Study: A Multi-country Comparison of Levels of Indoor Air Pollution in Different Workplaces



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Introduction: A local study completed in Singapore, which was part of an international multicountry study that aims to develop a global assessment of exposure to second-hand smoke in indoor workplaces, gathered data regarding the indoor air quality of public areas. It was hypothesised that air would be less polluted in non-smoking venues compared to places where smoking occurred. Materials and Methods: A TSI SidePak AM510 Personal Aerosol Monitor was used to sample and record the levels of respirable suspended particles (RSP) in the air. A broad range of venues were sampled in Singapore. The primary goal of data analysis was to assess the difference in the average levels of RSP in smoke-free and non smoke-free venues. Data was assessed at 3 levels: (a) the mean RSP across all venues sampled compared with the mean levels of smoke-free and non smoke-free venues, (b) levels in venues where smoking occurred compared with similar venues in Ireland, and (c) comparison between smoke-free and non smoke-free areas according to the type of venue. Statistical significance was assessed using the Mann-Whitney Utest. Results: The level of indoor air pollution was 96% lower in smoke-free venues compared to non smoke-free venues. Averaged across each type of venue, the lowest levels of indoor air pollution were found in restaurants (17 μg/m3 ) and the highest in bars (622 μg/m3 ); both well above the US EPA Air Quality Index hazardous level of ≥251 ug/m3 . Conclusions: This study demonstrates that workers and patrons are exposed to harmful levels of a known carcinogen and toxin. Policies that prohibit smoking in public areas dramatically reduce exposure and improve worker and patron health.

Second-hand smoke is a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning end of a cigarette, pipe or cigar, and the smoke exhaled from the lungs of smokers. There are more than 4,0001-3 chemicals in second-hand smoke including 691-3 carcinogens as well as other chemicals that are irritants, toxicants and mutagens.4 In 1986, a report of the United States (US) Surgeon General concluded that second-hand smoke is a cause of disease in healthy non-smokers.5 Subsequent studies from the US Environmental Protection Agency,6,7 the US National Toxicology Programme8 and the International Agency for Research on Cancer9 have classified second-hand smoke as a known human carcinogen.

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