Children living in apartments with nonsmoking adults still exposed

May 02, 2010

The majority of children living in apartments are exposed to secondhand smoke, even when they don't live with smokers. This study from the University of Rochester Medical Center is the first to examine whether housing type is a potential contributor to children's exposure to cigarette smoke. The abstract was presented this morning at the Pediatric Academic Society Meeting in Vancouver, Canada.

Among who lived in an apartment, 84 percent had been exposed to tobacco smoke, according to the level of a biomarker (cotinine) in their blood that indicates exposure to nicotine found in tobacco, and this included more than 9 of 10 African-American and white children. Even among children who lived in detached houses, 70 percent showed evidence of exposure.

"We are starting to understand the role that seepage through walls and through shared ventilation may impact in apartments," said Karen Wilson, M.D., MPH, author of the study and an assistant professor of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center's Golisano Children's Hospital. "We see that children are being exposed in ways we are not picking up, and it's important, for their health, that we figure out where this exposure is taking place, and work to eliminate it. Multi-unit housing is one potential source, but a very important one."

Previous studies have shown that children with cotinine levels indicating tobacco smoke exposure have higher rates of , decreased and decreased antioxidant levels.

The study analyzed data from almost 6,000 children between 6- and 18-years-old in a national database (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2006) to see if there was any relationship between their smoke exposure and their housing type. Apartment living was associated with a 45 percent increase in cotinine levels for African American children and a 207 percent increase for white children. About 18 percent of U.S. children live in apartments, and many of these children are living in subsidized housing communities where smoking is more prevalent.

Wilson said many parents are trying to limit their children's tobacco smoke exposure by not allowing smoking in their apartments, but they say they can smell tobacco smoke coming from other apartments or from common areas. Last summer, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released a memo recommending that their housing developments enact smoke-free policies. A smoking ban within multi-unit, subsidized could further reduce the tobacco smoke exposure for children and reduce smoking rates among residents.

Explore further: Young adults ages 18 to 26 should be viewed as separate subpopulation in policy and research

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JerryPark
5 / 5 (1) May 02, 2010
"Even among children who lived in detached houses, 70 percent showed evidence of exposure."

There has to be either something wrong with the testing methodology or deliberate misrepresentation when 70% of children living in non-smoking houses not attached to any other domiciles are found to contain nicotine metabolites.

It is not reasonable to find that children are exposed to nicotine when it is absent in their environment.
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet May 02, 2010
It is not reasonable to find that children are exposed to nicotine when it is absent in their environment.

I think the statement here is that nicotine is always present in the environment that children are exposed to, primarily outside of the house. Appears to me to be research with a pointed agenda.
JerryPark
5 / 5 (1) May 02, 2010
"Appears to me to be research with a pointed agenda."

Yes, I think I perceive an agenda too.
akotlar
not rated yet May 02, 2010
So what? Every study has an agenda; the hypothesis is the result of one's imagination.

It should be evaluated on the basis of the information it contains, not on whether or not the implications of the study suit your inclinations.
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet May 02, 2010
not on whether or not the implications of the study suit your inclinations.
Nor the inclinations of the researcher or a particular funding agent.
JerryPark
not rated yet May 02, 2010
"It should be evaluated on the basis of the information it contains, not on whether or not the implications of the study suit your inclinations."

Fair enough. So when the study notes that 70% of children in the study who were not exposed to nicotine in their environment nevertheless tested positive for nicotine, we can evaluate the study on that basis and dispense with it as lacking credibility.
akotlar
not rated yet May 02, 2010
Jerry, unless you've actually read the study I'm not sure how much you could divulge, but I see clear indication that tobacco smoke was prevalent in their environment:

"Wilson said many parents are trying to limit their children's tobacco smoke exposure by not allowing smoking in their apartments, but they say they can smell tobacco smoke coming from other apartments or from common areas. "

I don't see cause for uproar against UoR's "agenda" (which seems to be for the health of the nation's children). In this case it seems that a ban on smoked tobacco is implicitly desired, as clearly there is pervasive second or third-hand exposure to non-smokers, but I'm at a loss as to why that obvious conclusion is a derisive attribute. We haven't read the study, but if it's a properly conducted study, and this conclusion follows from a 6000 population sample, I have no qualms with it and neither should you.
JerryPark
not rated yet May 02, 2010
akotlar,

You see nothing wrong with a study which notes that 70% of children living in houses unconnected to other houses (not adjoining apartments) whose parents do not smoke nevertheless test positive for nicotine?

To find 70% of children chosen randomly from the population to have measurable nicotine exposure would be unheard of.

Either the test for nicotine was not done properly or the test used to determine nicotine exposure is not a valid test or the claim of 70% of children with no home exposure testing positive for nicotine is fabricated.

It is just not possible for that many children who live with non-smoking parents in a non-smoking environment to test positive for nicotine.

akotlar
not rated yet May 02, 2010

To find 70% of children chosen randomly from the population to have measurable nicotine exposure would be unheard of.


I'm not sure why it would be "unheard of" in the sense that the probability is so low the the result is practically impossible, or logically dissonant.

It's very plausible. There was a study in the past 6 months or so that showed significant levels of nicotine detected in kids playing in rooms that were previously exposed to smoke (from the carpet I believe). If these parents can smell the smoke inside their apartment, or in the proximity of the apartment, it wouldn't surprise me that cigarette byproducts would build up to a detectable levels in their children.

The U.S has unfortunately dirty air, especially in urban areas, which it sounds like where these samples came from.

edit: http://www.msnbc....ictions/
JerryPark
not rated yet May 03, 2010
You keep saying that children in apartments where there is known smoke exposure can test positive for nicotine exposure. Sure.

But read the article. "Even among children who lived in detached houses, 70 percent showed evidence of exposure." These are children who live with non-smoking parents in a smoke free environment.

It is ludicrous to hold that 70% of children not exposed to smoke in their environment are nevertheless testing positive for nicotine unless the test is administered improperly or the test is invalid or there is deliberate fabrication of results.

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