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Environ Health Perspect. 1985 May;60:405-10.

Measurement of nicotine in building air as an indicator of tobacco smoke levels.


Humans apparently differ greatly in their sensitivity and tolerance to tobacco smoke, thereby creating conflicts in the workplace. Resolution of conflicts in a large office complex at the authors' institution required an objective measure of smoke levels. A gas chromatographic technique was devised for collection and analysis of nicotine concentrations in the building air as an indicator of tobacco smoke pollution. Segregation of smokers and nonsmokers in the large office complex still resulted in substantial exposure of the nonsmoker to tobacco smoke, although a gradient of exposure was certainly observed. Passive tobacco smoke consumption in the smoking area of the office complex was calculated to be equivalent to 1.1 cigarettes per 8-hr period, and nicotine density in this area was 1.96 microgram/m. The restriction of smoking to a foyer area outside the office complex resulted in a slow but eventual reduction in nicotine concentrations in the office complex. Observed "background" nicotine concentration levels corresponding to 4 to 7% of those encountered in smoking areas demonstrate that central air circulation systems and people movement increase the nicotine level throughout all rooms of a building, regardless of the smoking policies of an individual office complex. Recent documentation of the relationship between passive smoking and cancer, heart disease, pulmonary dysfunction, and allergic responses argues for restriction of smoking to building exteriors.

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