Bulletin Board
Rants, Raves, Interesting Science & Awful Puns
August 5, 2003

Cleaner Air With Smokers?

Secondhand Effects Of Banning

Some time ago, I posted a piece called Second-Hand Smoke Facts on some of the shenanigans behind the statistics cooked up to spur the antismoking mania that's making lots of money for some -- notably lawyers and suppliers of alleged habit-breaking pharmaceuticals. (For the record I'm not a smoker. My interest has to do with the practices passed off as science.) More recently, I've heard from Chuck Allen, whom I met a few years back at a Mensa Annual Convention in Orlando, Florida, where they invited me along as a guest speaker.

Besides being involved in world-veteran-level fencing, Chuck also has years of experience with the aerospace industry, first in the Air Force and later as an electronics systems designer. It seems that since smoking was banned on commercial aircraft, there has been a marked increase in the number of passengers getting sick. Further investigation revealed that following the ban, cabin air changes were decreased from 100 percent every 90 seconds to 50 percent every 4 to 6 minutes. While the filters used are sophisticated, they cannot remove viruses and Volatile Organic Compounds, which leads to an eightfold (50 percent change x 0.25 frequency) increase in concentration of these substances. In buildings, filters are rarely close to the quality of those used in aircraft, and with the elimination of smokers, the air changes may be reduced by a factor of 100 rather than 8. We never heard of "sick buildings" until the bans on smoking started going into effect. Chuck suggests that secondhand smoke in enclosed areas performs a similar function to the agents added to give a smell to natural gas to warn of a leak: your nose will tell you when the air quality due to other, undetectable contaminants is not healthy. He concludes that LACK of secondhand smoke is health threatening.

(I wasn't always a nonsmoker but have been off them now for over 20 years, having taken up the habit at 15 on my mother's recommendation. It was a very different world then. For anyone interested, click here for the painless, cost-free method that worked for me.)

Content © The Estate of James P. Hogan, 1998-2014. All rights reserved.

Page URL: http://www.jamesphogan.com/bb/bulletin.php?id=147