Measuring the Effect of Environmental Tobacco Smoke on Lung Function: Results From a Small Observational Investigation of Acute Exposure

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Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) in smoky venues puts patrons and employees at risk for immediate respiratory symptoms. Although much literature focuses on outcomes associated with chronic ETS exposure, the current study assesses changes in lung function after acute exposure.


Ninety-six nonsmoking, healthy adults were exposed to ETS at a bar. Lung function [eg, forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1)] was assessed at baseline, immediately after 3 hours of ETS exposure, and 2 hours after exiting the bar. PM2.5 recordings were also measured.


Repeated-measures analysis of variance found significant decreases in FEV1, FVC and FEF25–75%, and peak expiratory flow after ETS exposure compared with baseline that remained significantly decreased after a 2-hour recovery period.


Acute exposure to ETS in a natural environment significantly attenuates lung function. A subgroup experienced heightened reductions in lung function.

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