Objective: To compare tobacco smoke-derived particulate levels in transportation and hospitality venues with and without smoking in 32 countries using a standardised measurement protocol.
Methods: The TSI SidePak AM510 Personal Aerosol Monitor was used to measure the concentration of particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5) in 1822 bars, restaurants, retail outlets, airports and other workplaces in 32 geographically dispersed countries between 2003 and 2007.
Results: Geometric mean PM2.5 levels were highest in Syria (372 μg/m3), Romania (366 μg/m3) and Lebanon (346 μg/m3), while they were lowest in the three countries that have nationwide laws prohibiting smoking in indoor public places (Ireland at 22 μg/m3, Uruguay at 18 μg/m3 and New Zealand at 8 μg/m3). On average, the PM2.5 levels in places where smoking was observed was 8.9 times greater (95 CI 8.0 to 10) than levels in places where smoking was not observed.
Conclusions: Levels of indoor fine particle air pollution in places where smoking is observed are typically greater than levels that the World Health Organization and US Environmental Protection Agency have concluded are harmful to human health.
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Funding: The present work was funded by grants from the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute (FAMRI) and from the US National Cancer Institute/National Institutes of Health (from the Roswell Park Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center (TTURC), P50 CA111236).
Competing interests: None.