(BOSTON) -- Children who live in apartments have more tobacco contaminants in their blood than those who live in detached homes -- even if smokers in the household don't light up indoors -- a new study suggests.
Research has linked secondhand smoke to a host of health conditions in kids, including asthma and respiratory infections, ear infections, low test scores and sudden infant death syndrome.
In this latest study, researchers drew upon a national survey of parents and children ages 6 through 18 that took place from 2001-2006. In addition to reviewing responses to survey questions about smoking in the home, they also performed tests to check the levels of a contaminant called cotinine, a chemical which is present in the blood of children who have been exposed to the nicotine in tobacco smoke. Only children who lived in homes in which no one smoked indoors were included in the analysis.
The research showed that children who lived in apartments generally had higher levels of tobacco smoke contaminants in their blood than children who lived in detached houses. They also found that tobacco contaminant levels were highest in children under 12, those who were black, and those living below the federal poverty level.
One of the study authors, Dr. Jonathon Winickoff at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said he believes his findings will help create the social and political will to push people toward establishing smoke-free housing policies.
The study hauthors suggest that children in apartment-style housing are exposed to higher levels of tobacco smoke because of shared walls, ventilation systems and ductwork. Secondhand smoke can seep through these shared structures and into apartments in which no one smokes inside the home. Once the secondhand smoke is no longer visible to the eye, it can still be absorbed by furniture, carpets, curtains, clothing, toys, and other items that children come into contact with and even put in their mouths.
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