Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published its first national study on the leading causes of death for U.S. Latinos. The study looked at risk factors and disease prevalence in many groups, including Puerto Ricans. It found that smoking rates among Puerto Rican men were particularly high at 26%.
While it is known to virtually everyone that smoking is not good for a person's health, exposure to secondhand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), is also a concern for people living or working with a smoker. Environmental tobacco smoke is a complex mixture of over 4,000 compounds, more than 40 of which are known to cause cancer in humans or animals and many of which are strong irritants.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that each year, passive smoking causes between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections in infants and children under 18 months of age. This results in 7,500 to 15,000 hospitalizations each year. The EPA also states that exposure to secondhand smoke increases the number of episodes and severity of symptoms in hundreds of thousands of asthmatic children, and may cause thousands of non-asthmatic children to develop the disease each year.
'This CDC report reminds us that exposure to tobacco smoke is something that needs to be taken seriously,' said Harry Pena, President of Zimmetry Environmental. 'We all known that tobacco smoke can cause lung cancer over time, but even short exposures to it can cause eye, nose and throat irritation and aggravate existing respiratory issues such as asthma and COPD.'
For those concerned about exposure to environmental tobacco smoke in their home or place of business, Zimmetry Environmental provides air testing and consulting services to identify exposure risks. These services are available across Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.