Smoking in cars leads to pollution levels over three times UN threshold

A study by doctors in Britain measured fine particle concentrations in the cars of 17 drivers, comparing trips with and without smoking. The doctors found that journeys that involved smoking had levels of fine particles that were over three times the recommendation set by the World Health Organization.


October 16, 2012 / NY Daily News / — Smoking in cars raises levels of dangerous fine-particle pollutants to many times the limit recommended by the world’s health agency, a study published on Monday said.

Doctors in Britain measured concentrations of fine particles in cars driven by 17 people, 14 of them smokers, using an electronic monitor on the back seat.

The volunteers were asked to follow their normal smoking habits as the smoke levels in their car were monitored over three days.

Out of 104 journeys — average time 27 minutes — 63 were smoke-free.

During smoking journeys, levels of fine particles were 85 micrograms per cubic meter on average, compared to guidelines of 25 mcg/cu. meter for indoor pollution set by the UN’s World Health Organisation (WHO).

Even when when the driver opened the window or turned on ventilation to remove the smoke, particulate levels were still above the WHO benchmark at some point during these journeys.

The average peak during smoking trips was 385 mcg/cu.meter, with the highest being more than 880 mcg/cu. meter.

In contrast, particulate levels during non-smoking journeys averaged only 7.4 mcg/cu. meter.