Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Proof of the Danger That Smoking in Cars Holds

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Proof of the Danger That Smoking in Cars Holds

Article excerpt

Byline: Craig Thompson Health Reporter

EXPERTS at Newcastle University have revealed the true danger of smoking in cars after an experiment showed passengers are at risk of shockingly high levels of chemicals.

On the day the law changes to prevent smoking in cars carrying under 18s, scientists at the university revealed they took part in an experiment designed to show the real impact of second-hand smoke.

Results showed levels of chemicals up to 200 times higher than the recommended safety guidelines in vehicles where someone was smoking. The experiment tested the levels of dangerous chemicals - fine particles known as PM2.5 - to which children can be exposed in the back seat of a car.

It revealed that opening the car windows does not remove the harmful effects of second-hand smoke and that, even with the window open, levels of dangerous chemicals were more than 100 times higher than recommended safety guidelines When the windows were closed and the fan on, levels of chemicals were more than 200 times higher than guidelines. Furthermore, the amount of the poisonous gas Carbon Monoxide (CO) was two to three times higher than on a busy road at rush hour.

The experiment, carried out by university experts along with Public Health England and Fresh Smoke Free North East was times to coincide with today's change in the law.

From today it will be an offence for a person of any age to smoke in a private vehicle that is carrying someone under 18.

Dr Anil Namdeo, who heads up the Transport Research team at Newcastle University led the experiment. He said: "People think that by opening the window they are clearing the air, but what actually happens is the air is sucked in from outside and pushes the smoke backwards, straight towards the passengers in the back seat.

"Within minutes of the driver lighting up we saw a rapid increase in the levels of these harmful chemicals - fine particles known as PM2.5 - not just around the driver but also around the child's car seat.

"With the window closed the levels peaked at several hundred times the safe limit but even with the window open we saw a significant rise to well above the safe recommended limits."

Dr Malcolm Brodlie, clinical senior lecturer at Newcastle University and Honorary Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine at the Great North Children's Hospital, added: "Breathing in second-hand smoke is harmful to anyone but children are especially vulnerable as their lungs are still developing.

"We see the effects of this on hospital wards too often. Babies and children who breathe in smoke are more likely to have problems with asthma attacks and chest infections, and need more hospital care and doctors' appointments.

"This new data really hits home the harm that can be caused by smoking in a confined space such as a car and highlights the importance of this new law in protecting children against the effects of second-hand smoke. …

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