Car Exposure

Book page on car exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke

Smokers Emit More Pollution Than Cars

An article in the Orange County register presents a smoker who is also a smog technician. Compared to the emissions from the tailpipe of a car, the smoker is "a gross polluter." In fact, while cars only emit about 200 micrograms of fine particle mass per mile driven, a smoked cigarette emits about 10,000 micrograms. What does this mean for people riding inside a car with a smoker? You can explore this issue using the simulations available on this website.

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California Bans Smoking in Cars with Minors Present

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill that bans smoking in cars when there are hildren 17 or under. Those caught doing so will face a $100 fine. The infraction will be a secondary offense, meaning that a police officer could not stop a motorist only for smoking in a car with a minor. Use the car exposure simulation to see how high secondhand smoke levels can be in cars.

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New Research on Secondhand Smoke in Cars and Vehicle Air Change Rates

A new article has been published (July 2007) on the amount of secondhand smoke air pollution that can occur in automobiles under various conditions. The Stanford University researchers (Ott, Klepeis, and Switzer) also measured many air exchange rates for different types of automobiles, which are valuable for use in simulating in-vehicle exposures to secondhand smoke as we do on the SimSmoke.Org website.

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Flash-Based Car Exposure Simulation

This is the first interactive flash-based simulation at SimSmoke.Org. Please "play" with the car exposure simulation below, which features integrated instructions. When you are done using the simulation, please take a survey.

[Ed. note: The embedded flash does not seem to work with some versions of Internet Explorer. If you do not see an embedded flash animation below, please click on this link. You will need the Adobe Flash Player to see this simulation.]

New Study on Secondhand Smoke in Cars

A new study has been completed by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health showing that levels of secondhand smoke particles in cars can reach dangerous levels, even when windows are open. Based on 45 trials, they report that peak levels with closed windows were over 500 μg m-3, on average, and peak levels with open windows were about 100 μg m-3, on average. See if you can simulate levels of this magnitude using the vehicle simulation model available on this website.

An article describing the study is appearing in the November 2006 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and can be downloaded.

Vaughan Rees, the lead author on the paper, says that “The smoke particle levels we measured are alarming and are above the threshold for what’s considered unhealthy for sensitive groups — people like children and the elderly."

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Car Exposure Demo

This simulation is of a smoker in a car over a 1-hour period. You may select the volume of the car (m3) and the rate of outdoor air exchange (h-1), which depends on the window and ventilation positions in the car.

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