November 27, 2012 / New York Times / by Nicholas Bakalar — Five large-hub airports in the United States have designated indoor smoking areas. According to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they all have unhealthy air — even in places where no one smokes.
Researchers placed air monitors in smoking and adjacent nonsmoking areas at international airports in Denver, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and Washington, for two weeks in October.
Measured in micrograms per cubic meter, the average level of particulate pollution in four large smoke-free airports was 8.0. In the partially enclosed smoking areas of the five airports, the level was 188.7 micrograms, and in areas adjacent to the smoking rooms it was 43.7 micrograms.
The researchers found that the pollution level in smoking areas of the five airports was 23 times as high as the level in nonsmoking airports, and the average in adjacent areas was five times as high.
The study, in the Nov. 20 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, notes that no level of secondhand smoke exposure is safe, and even brief exposures can have adverse cardiovascular and respiratory effects.
“The primary message here,” said the lead author, Brian King, a C.D.C. epidemiologist, “is that smoking areas in airports and the areas around them are not healthy for workers and travelers, particularly children.”