This just in: cigarette smoking is bad for you. I guess you already knew that, so I won't get into the gazillion studies that confirm this. Nor will I get into the gazillion studies that show how detrimental secondhand smoke is to a child's health. But I would like to debunk the myth that is still prevalent regarding smoking in cars with children.
I know a number of parents who continue to smoke with their children in the car under the misguided premise that if they roll the windows down, their kids won't be exposed to secondhand smoke. This is a bunch of baloney.
In fact, a new study has confirmed that secondhand smoke in cars — even with the windows down and/or the air conditioning on — exceeds official "safe" limits, making the air in the car toxic to all who attempt to breathe it, including your kids.
For the study, researchers in Scotland strapped a device to the back seat of the car to analyze the air quality during a number of journeys that ranged in duration from about 10 minutes to an hour. In 49 of the 85 journeys in total, the driver smoked up to four cigarettes.
Researchers found that in the 49 trips when the driver smoked, levels of fine particulate matter averaged 85 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3), which is more than three times higher than the 25µg/m3 maximum safe indoor air limit recommended by the World Health Organization. The damage was still evident when the driver smoked only one cigarette. Even with the windows wide open, particulate matter levels still exceeded the limit at some point during the journey.
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