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Environ Health Perspect. 2010 Feb;118(2):216-21. doi: 10.1289/ehp.0900892.

Workplace secondhand smoke exposure in the U.S. trucking industry.

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  • 1Exposure, Epidemiology, and Risk Program, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.



Although the smoking rate in the United States is declining because of an increase of smoke-free laws, among blue-collar workers it remains higher than that among many other occupational groups.


We evaluated the factors influencing workplace secondhand smoke (SHS) exposures in the U.S. unionized trucking industry.


From 2003 through 2005, we measured workplace SHS exposure among 203 nonsmoking and 61 smoking workers in 25 trucking terminals. Workers in several job groups wore personal vapor-phase nicotine samplers on their lapels for two consecutive work shifts and completed a workplace SHS exposure questionnaire at the end of the personal sampling.


Median nicotine level was 0.87 microg/m3 for nonsmokers and 5.96 microg/m3 for smokers. As expected, smokers experienced higher SHS exposure duration and intensity than did nonsmokers. For nonsmokers, multiple regression analyses indicated that self-reported exposure duration combined with intensity, lack of a smoking policy as reported by workers, having a nondriver job, and lower educational level were independently associated with elevated personal nicotine levels (model R2 = 0.52). Nondriver job and amount of active smoking were associated with elevated personal nicotine level in smokers, but self-reported exposure, lack of a smoking policy, and lower educational level were not.


Despite movements toward smoke-free laws, this population of blue-collar workers was still exposed to workplace SHS as recently as 2005. The perceived (reported by the workers), rather than the official (reported by the terminal managers), smoking policy was associated with measured SHS exposure levels among the nonsmokers. Job duties and educational level might also be important predictors of workplace SHS exposure.

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