Thu, Mar 02, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Air in pubs can be worse than outside: study

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Levels of fine particulate matter in some nightclubs can be worse than air quality levels outdoors, a non-governmental health organization said yesterday.

John Tung Foundation chief executive officer Yao Shi-yuan (姚思遠) said a study conducted by the foundation and academics last month showed that levels of PM2.5 — an indicator of airborne particles measuring 2.5 micrometers or less — at three pubs and nightclubs that allow smoking indoors were much higher than “unhealthy” outdoor levels, with one establishment reaching 12 times the unhealthy level.

Forty-four nations have banned smoking indoors to protect employees from long-term exposure to secondhand smoke at work, Yao said, adding that Taiwan should follow suit.

Taipei Medical University

researcher Kao Chi-wen (高志文), who conducted the survey with the foundation and the Consumers’ Foundation, said that PM2.5 levels exceeding 71 micrograms per cubic meter of air (mg/m3) are considered “very high” and unhealthy for the human body, but levels measured at nightclubs were typically from 697.9mg/m3 to 703.2mg/m3, with the highest reading being 912mg/m3.

Kao said some of the substances in secondhand smoke are finer than PM2.5, which means they can be carried deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has recognized 81 cancer-causing substances in secondhand smoke, Kao said.

Consumers’ Foundation chairman Yu Kai-hsiung (游開雄) said that while the government has called for “the establishment of safe environments for consumers,” smoking at indoor public spaces is not safe.

With the smoking rate in Taiwan a mere 16 percent, Yu said that requiring pubs and nightclubs to ban indoor smoking is only asking the few people to step outside when they want to smoke, but would provide a healthier indoor environment for others.

The foundations urged the government to modify regulations to ban smoking in all indoor public spaces to better protect the public’s health.

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