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Indoor Air Quality at Nine Large-Hub Airports With and Without Designated Smoking Areas—United States, October–November 2012

This page is archived for historical purposes and is no longer being updated.

November 23, 2012 / Vol. 61 / No. 46

MMWR Introduction

CDC measured average levels of respirable suspended particles (RSPs), small pieces of smoke that can be inhaled into the lungs—a marker of secondhand smoke, at nine large-hub airports. Five of these airports have designated smoking areas: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Washington Dulles International, McCarran International in Las Vegas, Salt Lake City International, and Denver International. The other four airports are smoke-free: Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International, Orlando International, Chicago O’Hare International, and Phoenix Sky Harbor International. CDC found that the average levels of RSPs were 23 times higher in the smoking areas than the average levels in the smoke-free airports. Also, the average RSP levels next to the smoking areas were 5 times higher than average levels in smoke-free airports.

Currently in the United States, 5 of the 29 large-hub airports allow smoking in designated indoor areas accessible to the public. In 2011, these 5 airports had a combined traffic of more than 110 million passengers, which is 15% of all U.S. air travel. The findings show that workers and travelers, including children, at airports that allow indoor smoking are at risk of exposure to secondhand smoke. There is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure. Completely eliminating smoking inside airports is the only way to protect nonsmoking airport employees and travelers of all ages from exposure to secondhand smoke.