Researchers have found that the majority of children living in apartments are exposed to secondhand smoke, even if they do not live with smokers. The study from the University of Rochester Medical Center, presented at the [removed]Pediatric Academic Society Meeting[/removed] in Vancouver, British Columbia, is the first to examine whether housing type is a potential contributor to children’s exposure to cigarette smoke.
Analyzing data from almost 6,000 children between 6 and 18 years of age in a national database, researchers examined if there was any relationship between their smoke exposure and their housing type.
Among children who lived in apartments, 84% had been exposed to tobacco smoke, according to the level of cotinine—a biomarker in their blood that indicates exposure to nicotine found in tobacco. This number included more than nine of 10 African American and white children. Even among children who lived in detached houses, 70% showed evidence of exposure.
Apartment living was associated with a 45% increase in cotinine levels for African American children and a 207% increase for white children. About 18% of US children live in apartments, and many of these children are living in subsidized housing communities where smoking is more prevalent.
Previous studies have shown that children with cotinine levels indicating tobacco smoke exposure have higher rates of respiratory diseases, decreased cognitive abilities, and decreased antioxidant levels.