2ndhand smoke exposure can be deadly

At a time when tobacco use is surging in many countries a new study has shown that secondhand smoke-caused by smoking while vaping-hurts the body to a deadly level.

A study by University of Alberta scientists found secondhand smoke damages volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the body. These compounds are colorless odorless and tasteless. VOCs are compounds that do not vary for a long time the researchers said.

These compounds are foreign to the human nose and are also present in tobacco smoke which means the effects of secondhand smoke exposure are cumulative and hence potentially more dangerous said Lillian Helliba a Ph. D. candidate in the U of As Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Immunology. Many countries around the world including the U. S. and Switzerland are implementing multiple regions and districts air quality standards though only in some provinces or regions.

The researchers tested plasma from volunteers for the presence of VOCs and nicotine in it. They also looked for low levels of toxic substances (-) such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde.

The researchers found that 1850 volunteers or 0. 59 per cent had detectable levels of nicotine and 1904296 or 9. 34 per cent had detectable levels of formaldehyde and acetaldehyde.

We found that our study confirms that secondhand smoke is a potentially lethal asymptomatic inhalant causing a clinically relevant impairment of the human lung said Juan Prez-Becerra the studys lead author and a post-doctoral fellow in the U of As Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Immunology. We associated the percentage of VOC exposure from traditional indoor and conventional cigarette smoke with certain lung parameters such as asthma and blood pressure.

The U of A study only measured the concentration of harmful substances after they had saturated with VOCs and nicotine. The sleep study monitored volunteers sleep and nicotine intake or what happened in their body between waking and sleep. It provides interesting data on the potential effects of secondhand smoke on our lung function that can be used by future research said Prez-Becerra.

The study did not look into the actual level of exposure to secondhand smoke for the people who participated and whether some were more exposed than others. The researchers said they also tested the level of benzene a chemical that is emerging as a carcinogen. Benzene is known to be released by certain foods and is a probable carcinogen given its structure.

VITASA did not respond to request for comment.

The researchers say their study strengthens the case for tobacco harm reduction policy change.

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