Public smoking 16 times more polluting: Study
Wellingdon: If you stand next to someone smoking at a bus stop, there are fair chances that you`ll be exposed to fine particulate pollution nearly 16 times higher than the background level, says a study.
The study conducted by the University of Otago, New Zealand, has found that smoking on city street footpaths increases the amount of dangerous fine particulates many times in the air.
The five-week-long study used a sensitive air monitor to measure air quality at a shopping centre as they passed 284 people who were smoking on the footpaths, the journal Health & Place reports.
They found that when smokers were observed, at an average distance of 2.6 metres, there was an average 70 percent more fine particulates in the air (PM 2.5 or less than 2.5 mm in diameter) than when there were no smokers around, according to an Otago statement.
When standing next to a smoker at a bus stop, the mean fine particulate pollution level was 16 times the background level, with a peak of 26 times the background level.
George Thomson, researcher from Otago, pointed out that the problem of smoking on streets is being addressed with a growing number of cities successfully adopting smoke-free policies for at least some outdoor parts of shopping areas.
However, study co-author and associate professor Nick Wilson says that city administration should do more to help protect the health of pedestrians by implementing the smoke-free policies in shopping areas.
Other likely benefits of smoke-free streets could be decreased street cleaning costs from less cigarette butt litter, a better public image for a city and the reduction of second-hand smoke drifting into shops and offices, the study said.