Cigarettes and Vaping Harm Indoor Air Quality
How Cigarettes and Vaping Harm Your Indoor Air Quality
One of the results of an international pandemic is an increase in concern about indoor air quality (IAQ), especially as it relates to indoor spaces in multi-unit residential spaces. People are concerned about how the Indoor Air Quality of adjacent units might affect their units.
A telltale indicator is the odor of tobacco smoke in a non-smoking unit. If tobacco smoke is migrating between apartments, what other airborne particles (including viruses) might also be migrating?
The request for environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) testing has increased tremendously over the last few years. ETS is an air quality test to determine the presence of indoor cigarette smoke; the greatest number of calls come from renters and condo owners, or from landlords of renters suspected of violating a no-smoking lease agreement. Why are people concerned with second-hand cigarette smoke?
- The smoke that results from burning tobacco contains at least 4,000 chemical substances. According to the EPA, at least 40 of these substances are known to cause cancer in humans and many more substances are known to be strong irritants. Second-hand smoke also includes the smoke released from the lungs of smokers after it has been inhaled.
- Second-hand smoke is a serious health issue (EPA). Approximately 3,000 nonsmokers die each year from lung cancer. “Passive smoking is responsible for between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections in infants and children under 18 months of age annually, resulting in between 7,500 and 15,000 hospitalizations each year.”Second-hand smoke elevates the risk of asthma attacks in children with existing asthma conditions. “Between 200,000 and 1,000,000 asthmatic children have their condition made worse by exposure to secondhand smoke. Passive smoking may also cause thousands of non-asthmatic children to develop the condition each year.” EPA
ETS testing tests air samples for the presence of nicotine and other products that result from burning tobacco.
Mitigation of ETS
Landlords can determine their options when they discover the presence of tobacco smoke in no-smoking apartment units. Apartment or condo dwellers might consider measures to prevent the migration of smoke into their apartments.
- Each apartment should have independent HVAC ducts; the smoke should not be migrating between apartment or condo units through the HVAC vents.
- Examine electrical and plumbing penetrations between shared walls with other apartments; seal these penetrations to limit the amount of air migrating through openings. Don’t forget floor or ceiling penetrations.
- Create positive air pressure (bringing outside air into the apartment) and use exhaust fans sparingly. Exhaust fans pull air into the apartment as it removes existing air. This can pull air from the apartments with shared walls.
What about vaping or e-cigarettes?
One thing is clear—e-cigarettes do not produce the same number of chemical byproducts as regular cigarettes. But that is about all that is clear.
- E-cigarettes use a small electric charge to atomize nicotine instead of a flame and combustion.
- Various brands use different flavoring additives—no two brands are alike. Some brands use additives for different effects, including erectile dysfunction and weight loss drugs.
- The vapor that results from e-cigarette use contains chemical compounds, including carcinogens that are different from traditional cigarette smoke. Health professionals have been studying traditional cigarette smoke since 1920, measuring the various compounds and their effects on the human body. E-cigarettes were introduced in the mid-2000s; the measurement and study has only just begun.
- Currently, e-cigarette manufacturing is poorly regulated; the health effects of inhaling various additives are far from being known.
If you smell the flavored vapor from e-cigarettes, you should take the same measures as with traditional cigarettes.
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