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A review of air quality, biological indicators and health effects of second-hand waterpipe smoke exposure
  1. Sumit R Kumar1,
  2. Shelby Davies1,
  3. Michael Weitzman2,
  4. Scott Sherman3
  1. 1New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA
  2. 2Departments of Pediatrics and Environmental Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, New York University, New York, New York, USA
  3. 3Departments of Population Health, Medicine and Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine, New York University, New York, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to Sumit R Kumar, New York University School of Medicine, 334 E26th St Apt23C2, New York, NY 10010, USA; sumit.kumar{at}


Objective There has been a rapid increase in the use of waterpipe tobacco and non-tobacco based shisha in many countries. Understanding the impact and effects of second-hand smoke (SHS) from cigarette was a crucial factor in reducing cigarette use, leading to clean indoor air laws and smoking bans. This article reviews what is known about the effects of SHS exposure from waterpipes.

Data sources We used PubMed and EMBASE to review the literature. Articles were grouped into quantitative measures of air quality and biological markers, health effects, exposure across different settings, different types of shisha and use in different countries.

Study selection Criteria for study selection were based on the key words related to SHS: waterpipe, hookah, shisha and third-hand smoke.

Data extraction Independent extraction with two reviewers was performed with inclusion criteria applied to articles on SHS and waterpipe/hookah/shisha. We excluded articles related to pregnancy or prenatal exposure to SHS, animal studies, and non-specific source of exposure as well as articles not written in English.

Data synthesis A primary literature search yielded 54 articles, of which only 11 were included based on relevance to SHS from a waterpipe/hookah/shisha.

Conclusions The negative health consequences of second-hand waterpipe exposure have major implications for clean indoor air laws and for occupational safety. There exists an urgent need for public health campaigns about the effects on children and household members from smoking waterpipe at home, and for further development and implementation of regulations to protect the health of the public from this rapidly emerging threat.

  • Environment
  • Non-cigarette tobacco products
  • Secondhand smoke

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

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