The dangers of secondhand smoke

We all know the dangers of smoking, but it never hurts to read some of the reasons again.

We all know the dangers of smoking, but it never hurts to read some of the reasons again.

• There are more than 50 chemicals in secondhand smoke that have been identified as hazardous by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

• Secondhand smoke has been classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a Group A carcinogen, a classification reserved for chemicals or compounds which have been shown to cause cancer in humans.

• Secondhand smoke is associated with several serious health effects, including retarded fetal growth, asthma, lower respiratory infections, lung and nasal cancer, and heart disease.

• Secondhand smoke levels in restaurants were found to be two times higher than those in offices. Secondhand smoke levels in bars were between four and six times higher than those in offices.

• Each year, environmental tobacco smoke kills approximately 53,000 Americans — the same number of Americans killed in the Vietnam War.

• Waiters and waitresses have almost twice the risk of lung cancer due to involuntary exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.

• Secondhand smoke exposure increases the risk of bronchitis and pneumonia in children. The EPA estimates that between 150,000 and 300,000 of these cases in infants and young children are attributable to exposure to secondhand smoke every year. Of these, between 7,500 and 15,000 will result in hospitalization.

• The New England Journal of Medicine reported that 17 percent of lung cancers among adult nonsmokers can be attributed to high levels of secondhand smoke during childhood and adolescence.



Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 25, Number 3, June/July 2006.

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