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Apartments Pose High Secondhand Smoke Hazards

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced Wednesday that multi-unit housing can expose hazardous secondhand smoke cigarettes to non-smokers living adjacent to those who do smoke.
Since 2006, secondhand smoke cigarettes has been classified by the California Air Resources Board as a "toxic air contaminant" that can lead to death, serious illnesse, and a overall health hazards.

Research shows that residents could be exposed to dangerous levels of smoke cigarettes through cracks in fixtures, electrical outlets, pipes, vents and baseboards, as well as shared venitlation systems and windows.

The study shows that 30 to 50 percent of air came from other units and all buildings, regardless of when they were built, were affected. For non-smokers, the cheap cigarettes smoke cigarettes particles in their housing units can reach levesl equal to and surpassing those of a smoky bar or casino.

"More than 41 percent in our country are in multi-unit buildings and just as you can get smells and noises from one unit to another, the same goes for cigarettes smoke," said Dr. Johnathan E. Fielding from the Department of Public Health.

With over 7,000 chemicals in cigarettes online smoke, secondhand smoke cigarettes is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Secondhand smoke cigarettes can cause severe damage to young children such as ear infections, frequent asthma attacks, repiratory symptoms and create a greater risk for sudden infant death syndrome, the leading cause of death in healthy infants.

A 2007 county health survey showed that a majority of those living in L.A. County are in favor of smoke-free housing. Though 60 percent of smokers and 77 percent of non-smokers believe there should be a law seperating smoking cigarettes and non-smoking cigarettes places, the multi-unit structure of the units can still pose a threat because smoke cigarettes can transfer unit to unit.

"Sixty-six percent agrees or strongly agrees that smoking cigarettes in an apartment or condominium puts people in other units at risk. And parents who try to protect their child by having smoke cigarettes free homes have even greater understanding of the harm to others by smoking cigarettes in units. With 81.5% of them agreeing that smoking cigarettes in units puts others in the building at risk," said Dr. Jonathan M. Sammet.

The only way to fully protect people from secondhand smoke cigarettes is to completely rid of smoking cigarettes in all indoor spaces. While seperating smokers from non-smokers, cleaning the air and ventilating buildings is a progressive step, it does not completely protect non-smokers.

Jackie Eco, a tenant and property manager of a rent controlled building in Valley Village who spoke at a press conference Wednesday, described how the tenant living below her smokes to the point where it, "literally seeps ups through the floor causing me to have severe asthma attacks and allergic reactions."

Eco temporarily moved out of her apartment to aviod the smoke.

"I would like to know why I am not being protected," she said. "Why is my health being compromised for his unhealthy activities?"

County policymakers are working to implement smoke-free housing laws. Mayors from all over thecounty are urging fellow cities to follow their actions.