Study: Living with smokers comparable to breathing air in world’s most polluted cities

Secondhand smoke is dangerous and debilitating.

It has long been common knowledge that secondhand smoke is dangerous and debilitating — according to the Center for Disease Control, 2.5 million non-smokers have died from complications caused by secondhand smoke inhalation since 1965. Now, a new study conducted in Scotland has quantified the amount of pollutants inhaled by those who live with smokers and found that it is comparable to the amount inhaled by residents of the world’s most polluted cities — such as Beijing — outside their homes.

Secondhand smoke and other pollutants are usually measured in particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter, or PM2.5, which because of their small size can seep into the bloodstream through the lungs. PM2.5 from secondhand smoke are especially dangerous, since cigarettes contain over 70 different carcinogenic chemicals.

The Scottish study found that people who lived in homes with smokers had over 3 times the World Health Organization-recommended levels of exposure to PM2.5. The concentrations of PM2.5 in smoking homes were over 10 times greater than the concentrations found in non-smoking homes. Non-smoking homes have an average of 70 percent of the PM2.5 found outside the home, but this study found that breathing the air in a home with a smoker is equivalent to breathing the air outside in a heavily polluted city such as London or Beijing.

In the researchers’ eyes, the solution is clear: “Making your home smoke-free is the most effective way of dramatically reducing the amount of damaging fine particles you inhale,” says Dr. Sean Semple, lead author of the study. However, if you are in a home situation with a smoker who is having difficulty quitting or outright refuses to quit, or if your neighbor or someone in your building smokes, air purifiers can help. Contact US Air Purifiers for help finding the best air purifier for smoke.