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Measuring the Effect of Environmental Tobacco Smoke on Lung Function: Results From a Small Observational Investigation of Acute Exposure

McCormick-Ricket, Iben MPH; Canterberry, Melanie PhD; Ghaffar, Atif MD; Parada, Nereida A. MD; Carton, Thomas W. PhD, MS

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: October 2016 - Volume 58 - Issue 10 - p 1028–1033
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000859

Objective: Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) in smoky venues puts patrons and employees at risk for immediate respiratory symptoms. Although much literature focuses on outcomes associated with chronic ETS exposure, the current study assesses changes in lung function after acute exposure.

Methods: Ninety-six nonsmoking, healthy adults were exposed to ETS at a bar. Lung function [eg, forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1)] was assessed at baseline, immediately after 3 hours of ETS exposure, and 2 hours after exiting the bar. PM2.5 recordings were also measured.

Results: Repeated-measures analysis of variance found significant decreases in FEV1, FVC and FEF25–75%, and peak expiratory flow after ETS exposure compared with baseline that remained significantly decreased after a 2-hour recovery period.

Conclusions: Acute exposure to ETS in a natural environment significantly attenuates lung function. A subgroup experienced heightened reductions in lung function.

Louisiana Public Health Institute, New Orleans.

Address correspondence to: Iben McCormick-Ricket, MPH, Louisiana Public Health Institute, 1515 Poydras St, Suite 1200, New Orleans, LA 70112 (

Funding for this work comes from the Louisiana Cancer Research Center.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2016 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine