Tag Archives: unhealthy air

Unhealthy Air in St Charles Public Places – Risk for Heart Attack

Embargoed until 7 p.m. May 20th, 2013
Contact: Don & Kay Young, kay [AT] youngchoices [DOT] org

St Charles city council members received a report Monday that showed air quality measured as unhealthy in public places where smoking is allowed. The study released by Smokefree St. Charles County found restaurants, bars and other public places that allow smoking have high levels of fine particulate matter (PM) pollution.

Because the extremely small particles of PM pollution are easily inhaled deep into the lungs, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined that exposure can aggravate lung conditions and can be a cause of asthma and bronchitis. The EPA also found people with heart disease or emphysema are at increased risk.[1]

The air quality report found the average PM level for a smokefree public place in St Charles was rated as “good” by EPA standards. In contrast, the average PM levels were nine times greater in public places that allowed smoking and was rated as “unhealthy.”

The report noted a full-time employee in one of these public places that allowed smoking would be exposed to 140 percent the EPA’s average annual daily limit for PM air pollution.

Only seven percent of people in these public places were actually smoking at any given time, which is a fraction of the 18 percent adult smoking prevalence for St Charles County.[2] Yet, these few active smokers significantly impacted air quality.

Not only does secondhand smoke damage the lungs, but the EPA reiterates it can damage the heart as well. Particles can be so small that they pass through the lungs into the blood stream. Moreover, a growing number of studies demonstrated significant declines in hospital admissions for heart attacks after communities implemented smokefree ordinances. Published studies found an average 14-17 percent decline in hospital admissions for heart attacks within the first year alone in communities that implemented an ordinance for smokefree public places and workplaces.[3,4]

“This is first and foremost an issue of public health,” said Kay Young of smoke-free St. Charles County. “The scientific evidence is consistent there is a causal relationship between secondhand smoke and heart disease. A 14-17 percent decline in heart attacks in communities with a smokefree ordinance is not a minor thing. We encourage policies for smokefree workplaces and public places as a compelling, yet simple way to reduce heart attacks in our community.”

The air quality report and other information may be obtained from the Tobacco Free Missouri website, http://www.tobaccofreemo.org.



[1] Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) http://www.epa.gov/air/particles/health.html

[2] Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services’ County Level Study http://health.mo.gov/data/mica/County_Level_Study_12/header.php?chkBox=A&cnty=183&profile_type=04

[3] Lightwood, James, PhD, et.al., “Declines in Acute Myocardial Infarction After Smoke-Free Laws and Individual Risk Attributable to Secondhand Smoke”, Circulation, October 6, 2009; 120:1373-1379

[4] Meyers, David G., MD, Cardiovascular Effects of Bans on Smoking in Public Places, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 54:14, 2009