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Second-hand smoke exposure in homes with children: assessment of airborne nicotine in the living room and children’s bedroom
  1. Teresa Arechavala1,2,3,
  2. Xavier Continente1,2,4,
  3. Mónica Pérez-Ríos5,6,
  4. Anna Schiaffino7,8,9,
  5. Esteve Fernandez8,9,10,
  6. Núria Cortés-Francisco4,11,
  7. Francesc Centrich2,4,11,
  8. Glòria Muñoz11,
  9. Maria J López1,2,3,4
  1. 1 Servei d’Avaluació i Mètodes d’Intervenció, Agència de Salut Publica de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  2. 2 CIBER de Epidemiología y Salud Pública, Madrid, Spain
  3. 3 Department of experimental and health science, Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), Barcelona, Spain
  4. 4 Institut d’investigació Biomèdica Sant Pau (IIB St. Pau), Barcelona, Spain
  5. 5 Epidemiology Unit, Galician Directorate for Public Health, GalicianHealth Authority, Xunta de Galicia, antiago de Compostela, Spain
  6. 6 Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, School of Medicine, University of Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  7. 7 Direcció General de Planificació en Salut, Departament de Salut, Generalitat de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain
  8. 8 Cancer Prevention and Control Group, Institut d’Investigació Biomèdica de Bellvitge (IDIBELL), Barcelona, Spain
  9. 9 Tobacco Control Unit, Cancer Control and Prevention Programme, Institut Català d’Oncologia (ICO), L’Hospitalet de Llobregat (Barcelona), Barcelona, Spain
  10. 10 Department of Clinical Sciences, Campus de Bellvitge, School of Medicine and Health Science, Universitat de Barcelona, L’Hospitalet de llobregat (Barcelona), Barcelona, Spain
  11. 11 Laboratori de l’Agència de Salut Pública de Barcelona, Servei de Química, Barcelona, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Dr Maria J López, Public Health Agency of Barcelona Lesseps 1, Barcelona 08023, Spain; mjlopez{at}


Background The introduction of ‘smoke-free laws’ has reduced the population’s exposure to second-hand smoke (SHS), although SHS is still an issue in homes and other public places. Children are vulnerable to its health effects, and their greatest exposure occurs at home.

Objectives To assess airborne nicotine concentration of the living room and children’s bedroom of homes with children under 13 years of age, and to analyse factors associated with these levels.

Methods We conducted a cross-sectional study in Barcelona in 2015–2016, selecting a convenience sample from families with at least one child under 13 years of age. The sample comprised 50 families with smokers and 50 without. We measured airborne nicotine concentrations in the living room and children’s bedroom, and, using a questionnaire administered to the parents, collected information about smoking habits at home.

Results Homes without smokers showed nicotine concentrations below the limit of detection (<0.02 µg/m3), while those with at least one smoker showed 0.16 µg/m3 in the living room and 0.12 µg/m3 in the bedroom. When smoking was allowed inside home, these values increased to 1.04 and 0.48 µg/m3, respectively. Moreover, nicotine concentrations in both rooms were strongly correlated (r=0.89), and higher nicotine levels were associated with the number of cigarettes smoked in the living room, smoking rules, the number of smokers living at home and tobacco smell.

Conclusions Homes with smokers present SHS in the living room and in the children’s bedroom. Therefore, programmes focused on reducing children’s SHS exposure are urgently needed.

  • Nicotine
  • Secondhand Smoke
  • Priority/special Populations

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  • Contributors XC, MJL and TA designed the study. TA has analysed the data and all authors took part in the results interpretation. TA has written the first draft of the manuscript, and all the authors have reviewed and written the modifications. All authors have critically reviewed the final manuscript and accepted it for submission.

  • Funding This study was partially funded by the Instituto Carlos III (PN I+D+I 2013–2016) and co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund(FEDER) under grant PI13/02734. The study was also partially funded by the Ministry of Universities and Research of Catalonia (AGAUR) under grant 2014 SGR 1373.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Parc de Salut Mar Clinical Research Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.