P-D Letters 09/21/2010: “Systems test” from Bill Hannegan

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Bill Hannegan of KEEP ST. LOUIS FREE! has a letter published in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch asking: What locations were the subject of the recent Washington University nicotine monitor study? And did they include the Double D Lounge, which Mr. Hannegan maintains has a state-of-the-art “air purification system” obviating the need for smoke-free air.

My efforts to determine from Washington University if the Double D Lounge was included in these tests have been unsuccessful, quoting university confidentiality rules. However, from nicotine monitor measurements conducted independently for Missouri GASP at hospitality venues where smoking was confined to a separately ventilated room, which revealed significant levels of nicotine in the non-smoking section, I’d be very surprised if the Double D Lounge provided an acceptable alternative to a smoke-free environment.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Letters to the editor, September 21
Posted: Tuesday, September 21, 2010 12:00 am

Systems test

According to the editorial “Quelle surprise!” (Sept. 12), a Washington University study of 20 St. Louis bars and restaurants has proven that even the most sophisticated air-purification machines are unable to clear secondhand smoke from the air. This study did not name the establishments it tested or specify the technology these establishments employ. The study mentions only ‘smoke-specific ventilation systems,” a term so vague it could include the ceiling fans some bar owners use to scatter and dissipate smoke or antiquated ‘smoke eaters” that have not been maintained in years.
One wonders if the systems were running at their highest setting during the entire test. Were they even on? Were the best systems in use in St. Louis bars and restaurants tested? I don’t know, and neither do the paper’s editors.

To clear up this confusion, why not test the air of a St. Louis establishment that features the most effective air-purification machines available? The Double D Lounge in Brentwood features five such machines, scrupulously maintained, that run full blast all the time.

Surgeon General Richard Carmona favorably mentioned the Double D’s systems in his 2006 report. He did not officially endorse them because “widespread application” of their effectiveness “has not yet been demonstrated.”

A report on the air quality at the Double D Lounge by an independent air-quality testing firm would be a fair measure of the effectiveness of such machines to remove smoke from bar and restaurant air. Until such a test occurs, the Post-Dispatch should withhold judgment concerning the effectiveness of air purification technology.

Bill Hannegan • St. Louis

5 responses to “P-D Letters 09/21/2010: “Systems test” from Bill Hannegan

  1. I agree with Bill that this would be a worth while test. It might settle the argument.

  2. “quoting university confidentiality rules.”? Why would the TCRP require confidentiality this secretive? Even NIH guidelines provide methods for protecting identities by attaching descriptive labels such as: Respondant #1, male, 195#, 72″….etc. before assigning observation data or: venue #7, 50K Cu. Ft., rate occ. 75, etc.
    In addition the findings summary recorded nicotine .levels in smoke-free venues. What level of of nicotine measurement is considered safe? None of the five references at the end of the summary give any specification.

  3. Paul Austin, Mt. Vernon
    “quoting university confidentiality rules.”? Why would the TCRP
    require confidentiality this secretive? Even NIH guidelines provide
    methods for protecting identities by attaching descriptive labels
    such as: Respondant #1, male, 195#, 72″….etc. before assigning
    observation data or: venue #7, 50K Cu. Ft., rate occ. 75, etc.
    In addition the findings summary recorded nicotine .levels in smoke-
    free venues. What level of of nicotine measurement is considered
    safe? None of the five references at the end of the summary give any
    specification.

  4. “smoking was confined to a separately ventilated room, which revealed significant levels of nicotine in the non-smoking section, I’d be very surprised if (DDL) provided an acceptable alternative to (no smoking)”

    Martin, this is where our real nub of disagreement may be: “significant levels” & “acceptable alternative.” What do you consider “significant levels”? Do you simply mean detectable levels? 40 years ago they could hardly measure microgram levels. 20 years ago they could probably have found nanogram levels. Today they can find picograms, and in a few years maybe attograms. Do you believe anything at all above “ZERO” is “significant”? Do you consider anything at all above “ZERO” is “acceptable”?

    I would challenge you to provide just a few pieces of valid research (not authority’s opinion statements/general reports/”fact sheets”) supporting a real health threat at from any possible smoke contaminant at 8h/day exposures of ag, pg, or even ng levels.

    If you can NOT, then realistically I think you’d have to admit that you’re basing your efforts on your opinion rather than upon actual science. That’s fine as long as it’s clearly stated as such, but it needs to be made clear.

    -MJM

    • Fair question, Michael. If it’s merely opinion mine should carry no more weight than yours. But it’s based on peer-reviewed papers published in the past by others more informed than me. I don’t propose to go into more detail now because I want to put this into a paper for submission for journal publication.

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