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Study finds significant health impact of smoke-free law

Results from an air monitoring study conducted before and after the state smoke-free air law took effect find a major reduction in the level of particulate matter in the air in restaurants after the law went into effect.

The Michigan Department of Community Health tobacco section, with help from local health departments and other community agencies, recruited field investigators to measure the air quality in restaurants. The field investigators measured levels of fine particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) from secondhand smoke in restaurants before and after the statewide smoke-free air law was implemented to determine whether the law was effective in reducing air pollution from secondhand smoke.

The study was conducted in 14 sites including Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing, East Lansing, Marquette, Midland, Novi, Saginaw, Sault Ste. Marie, Traverse City and West Branch. Air quality in Detroit casinos was also measured in this study.

Secondhand smoke, as measured by PM2.5, is a harmful combustion source air pollutant that is emitted in very large amounts by cigarettes, pipes and cigars. Exposure to particulate matter of this size affects breathing and the cellular defenses of the lungs, aggravates existing respiratory and cardiovascular ailments and causes adverse health effects on the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.

The entire population is affected, but susceptibility to PM2.5 pollution varies with age and health status, and persons with heart or lung disease, the elderly and children are at the highest risk from exposure to PM2.5.

According to Mark Valacak, Genesee County Health Department health officer, "Measuring the difference in particulate matter in restaurants before and after the state smoke-free air law went into effect can help to determine the change in air quality that occurred as a result of the law. This study clearly demonstrates the health benefit of the state smoke-free air law."

The air monitoring study was conducted in six restaurants in Genesee County both before and after the law took effect. All six restaurants allowed smoking before the law and were smoke-free after the law took effect. In all venues the level of PM2.5 dropped anywhere from 47 to 95 percent.

The Air Quality Index (AQI), used by Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality to communicate health levels of outdoor air to the public, identifies air pollutant concentrations as one of six color-coded category levels ranging from good to hazardous.

"When the PM2.5 levels from the air monitoring study before and after the law are plotted on the AQI, it is clear that the indoor air quality in the monitored restaurants markedly improved," said Valacak.

"The results from this study provide clear evidence that the law has been successful in protecting workers and the public from the health harms of secondhand smoke exposure in Michigan workplaces," added Valacak.

Visit www.michigan.gov/smokefreelaw to view a copy of the survey results or for more information about Michigan's smoke-free law.

(Note: This report is provided as a service to our readers and a service to the group or individual mentioned in the release. Usually, only minor editing is done. The group or individual is responsible for all information provided.)
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