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Secondhand smoke linked to health risks in children and women.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB), a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency, have released a report that links environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) to a variety of health effects ranging from asthma, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and increased incidences of breast cancer in nonsmoking pre-menopausal women.

The joint CARB and Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) report cites new and strengthening evidence that links secondhand tobacco smoke to a wide variety of adverse health effects, including increased incidences of cancer, heart disease, and respiratory ailments, as well as increased incidence of breast cancer in nonsmoking pre-menopausal women. In addition to the breast cancer finding, other significant findings of the report include the correlation of exposure to secondhand smoke to premature and low-birth-weight babies, SIDS, bronchitis, pneumonia, the induction and exacerbation of asthma, and middle-ear infections in children. In adults, ETS has been identified as a cause of lung and nasal sinus cancer, eye and nasal irritation, and now asthma. To read the report, visit

Secondhand smoke is a complex mixture of compounds formed by the burning of tobacco products and from exhaled smoke. ETS has been found to be a critical source of exposure to other toxic air contaminants such as benzene, 1,3 butadiene, and arsenic. In California each year, tobacco smoke is responsible for the release of 40 tons of nicotine, 365 tons of respirable particulate matter (RSP), and 1,907 tons of carbon monoxide. For more information on ETS, visit

As required by state law, the Scientific Review Panel on Toxic Air Contaminants (SRP) has reviewed the report's data, its scientific procedures and the methods used to support the data, and its conclusions and assessments. The SRP approved the report, recommends that the ARB list ETS as a toxic air contaminant (TAC), and also recommends that OEHHA add it to its list of TACs that may disproportionately affect children.

The process of identifying ETS as a toxic air contaminant was initiated in 2001 when CARB staff began an evaluation of the potential for human exposure to ETS, while OEHHA staff began an evaluation of its health effects. The results of these evaluations were included in a report that was released for public comment in 2003. Upon modifications due to public comments, the report was submitted to SRP for review. SRP then examined the report's process and findings, and made several recommendations for corrections until the final report was approved. With SRP approval, the report forms the technical basis for regulatory action. If ETS is formally listed as a TAC, CARB is required by law to determine if there is a need to further control outdoor exposures.

In 1997, CARB approved an earlier ETS report and forwarded it to the California Department of Health, where the state's antismoking unit is located. For more information, visit
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Title Annotation:sudden infant death syndrome and breast cancer
Publication:Journal of Environmental Health
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2006
Previous Article:Millions of germs and bacteria await kids at school.
Next Article:New dialogue for improving performance of health agencies begins in five states.

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