Children in nonsmoking families have higher levels of secondhand exposure if they live in multifamily dwellings

Prior posts have noted some of the chemical and adverse health effects that arise from the smoking of tobacco; a recent post also discussed the science developed to date regarding so-called thirdhand smoke.

Children who grow up in apartment buildings are more likely to inhale secondhand tobacco smoke than are kids living in detached homes, even if no one in their household ever lights a cigarette. As evidence of the excess exposure, the researchers found that those living in apartments excreted 45 percent more cotinine, which is a marker of nicotine exposure, than children who grew up in detached houses. Despite the fact that, depending on the type of dwelling in which they lived, cotinine concentrations were quite low (averaging 0.053 to 0.075 nanograms per milliliter of urine among all 5,002 kids, aged 6 to 18), such concentrations can enduce changes in behavior. The researchers note that many studies have linked even low-level exposures to secondhand tobacco smoke to behavioral changes and an increased risk of allergy and asthma. It should also be noted that the 2006 Surgeon General's report noted that there is no safe level of second-hand smoke.

The underlying study, as well as additional information that bears on this issue, can be found at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2010/12/13/peds.2010-2046.abstract?ijkey=6603bfff18bf547824f8ea580ccfdbd61d0e77b8&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha, http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/42802/, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/127/1/93.abstract, and http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/18/6/438.short.