Living in an apartment may not be the healthiest option for kids, especially if they have asthma. According to a new study, apartment dwelling exposes kids to the effects of secondhand smoke even if their parents never light up.
Children and Secondhand Smoke
Not surprisingly, kids are more susceptible to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke than adults. This is partially because they have smaller lung volumes and faster respiratory rates, which means they suck in more of the harmful chemicals from cigarette smoke than adults when they breathe.
Kids exposed to second smoke are more prone towards respiratory infections and ear infections – and children who have asthma are more susceptible to asthma attacks when they’re around second-hand smoke. In babies, exposure to cigarette smoke increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. One chemical in secondhand smoke, called cotinine, causes mild cognitive dysfunction in kids.
Apartment Dwellers and Secondhand Smoke
According to a new study soon to appear in the journal Pediatrics, kids who live in apartments may be exposed to secondhand smoke from other apartment units even if they live in a smoke-free unit.
Researchers measured levels of a chemical called cotinine in the blood of over 5,000 child apartment dwellers who lived in smoke-free dwellings. Cotinine is a chemical found in cigarette smoke and is a good marker for exposure to secondhand smoke.
To their surprise, a whopping 84% of kids who lived in apartments had levels of cotinine that were too high. This compared to 70% of kids who lived in non-apartment dwellings. Cotinine levels were 45% higher in kids who lived in an apartment setting compared to a single-family home.
Where did the secondhand smoke come from? Researchers believe it penetrates through the walls or enters the ventilation system from other units when residents smoke. So if you’re an apartment dweller with kids, not smoking yourself may not be enough. Secondhand smoke may still reach the lungs of kids from other apartment dwellers in high enough concentrations to cause health problems.
Effects of Secondhand Smoke When Living in an Apartment
If you have kids and plan on living in an apartment, find an apartment complex that’s completely smoke-free. More apartments are going smoke-free these days as people become aware of the dangers of secondhand smoke. It may take a little more footwork to find completely smoke-free living conditions, but it’s worth it when you consider the health of your kids.
Eurekalert.org. “Apartment-Dwelling Children in Non-Smoking Units Still Exposed”