Bill Hannegan just copied me on this e-mail he sent today to the Riverfront Times, Mike Reardon at KMOX Radio, and several people at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Abbe Goldberg of the Central West End Word does a fantastic job of spelling out our Double D Lounge secondhand smoke challenge. I could fund the challenge myself, but that funding would cause the results to look biased. I wish the RFT, the Post, or KMOX would sponsor this test. It would have international significance, yet the cost would be modest.
After reading this article, which covers the subject well, I’m not sure why Bill is so ecstatic. It doesn’t appear to help him in his quest to prove that “air purification” systems, the term he prefers to describe these recirculating air cleaning systems, actually work as advertised. Below is the West End Word article:
(by Abbe Goldberg – September 15, 2010)
A recent Washington University School of Medicine study of secondhand smoke exposure in St. Louis bars and restaurants shows that ventilation systems do not protect patrons and employees from nicotine exposure.
The study monitored 20 bars and restaurants in the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County, 16 of which allowed indoor smoking. Seventy-eight employees provided hair samples and answered survey questions. Researchers also looked at airborne nicotine, which can only come from cigarette smoke, in each location.
Every venue had some level of nicotine in the air but those that allowed smoking had levels 31 times higher. Venues with ventilation systems were shown to have higher nicotine concentrations in the air than other locations with similar numbers of smoking patrons. The researchers say this corroborates with the U.S. Surgeon General’s statement that “cleaning the air and ventilating buildings cannot eliminate exposures of nonsmokers to secondhand smoke.”
Nicotine was also found in the hair of employees in both smoke and smoke-free venues, and workers in both reported smoking-related symptoms, including coughing, shortness of breath and irritated eyes. In the long term, secondhand smoke causes cancer, heart disease and lung illness.
“Some of the effects of secondhand smoke on the cardiovascular system in nonsmokers are comparable to the effects of active smoking. These effects occur within a half hour of exposure,” said study author Joaquin Barnoya, research assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine.
The study pokes a hole in one of the main arguments against smoking bans passed last year in the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County, which will go into effect Jan. 2, prohibiting smoking in enclosed public places. Opponents argued that installing air filtration systems could eliminate the danger of secondhand smoke without reducing the rights of venue owners.
Bill Hannegan, founder of Keep St. Louis Free and a vocal opponent of the smoking ban, said he is “mystified by the results” of the Washington University study. He listed a number of reasons for these results, which he said go against everything he knows about air purification, his preferred term for ventilation systems.
He said that one problem with the results could be that in not knowing what restaurants were tested, we do not know what types of ventilation systems they use or how well they maintain their machines. Hannegan said that the study findings could be a result of restaurants not using their ventilation systems. Many restaurants “don’t turn on the machines unless people complain about the smoke,” he said. Another reason could be that the ventilation systems are taking the toxic particles out of the air but leaving the nicotine behind.
In order to provide more results, Hannegan said he is trying to get together funds to do another study using the same tests as the Washington University findings. He noted that time is limited because there is only a “small window of opportunity before the smoking ban goes into effect.”
He has found a location – the Double D Lounge in Brentwood – to conduct the new study. Hannegan claimed it has twice the amount of ventilation recommended and the system is never turned off, while the machines are checked every four months rather than every six months, which is recommended. Hannegan said that before installing the ventilation system, the staff at Double D Lounge would bring a change of clothes in plastic bags to change into at night because what they wore during their shifts would be saturated with smoke. With the system in place, it is no longer necessary.
Hannegan admitted that if his group’s findings are the same as in the Washington University study, they’ll concede – but he said he doubts that will happen. Ventilation systems have shown a huge improvement in the air quality of smoking restaurants, and testing a venue with what he believes to be the best system would corroborate that, he argued.
Sarah Moreland-Russell, a researcher who worked on the study, said that she believes Hannegan’s experiment would prove biased, given that just one, specifically selected venue would be chosen.
“[The Washington University] study was completed according to the rigor of scientific research,” Moreland-Russell said. “Part of that rigor is to randomly select a representative sample to study in order for the results to be generalizable.
“If Bill Hannegan did complete the study in just the restaurant he has suggested, upfront the study would be biased, and subject to Hawthorne effect,” meaning that the Double D Lounge could change its ventilation protocol during the length of the study to produce the desired effect, she said.
[mogasp: Wikipedia has an entry describing the Hawthorne effect, i.e. “The Hawthorne effect is a form of reactivity whereby subjects improve or modify an aspect of their behavior being experimentally measured simply in response to the fact that they are being studied, not in response to any particular experimental manipulation.”
Please click the following for a full description: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawthorne_effect]