RFT 09/28/2010: “Wash. U. Study Got it WRONG: Smoke Eaters Do Work”

This submission by Tony Palazzolo was the con opposing my pro on the recently released Wash. U. study on nicotine levels in 20 local bars and restaurants, 18 of which allowed smoking. He hangs his argument on what a lot of other pro-smoking proponents believe: that the amount of nicotine vapor present in the air in even the smokiest bars or restaurants tested is well below the OSHA standard.

Except that OSHA doesn’t HAVE a standard applicable to airborne nicotine from smoking!

Mr. Palazzolo also criticizes the study’s authors for not identifying the actual venues, although actually this is not uncommon. The reason may simply be to avoid the kind of threat of a lawsuit to which Missouri GASP has just been subjected by both Bill Hannegan AND Tony Palozzolo after I voluntarily informed Mr. Hannegan of the undercover study we had conducted the day before at the Double D Lounge in Brentwood.

Messrs. Hannegan and Palozzolo may say now that they were just trying to offer MoGASP a friendly warning, but that certainly isn’t how it came across. It was more a case of clear intimidation, even copying Marth Brothers, the suppliers of the smoke eaters in the bar we tested, in many of the e-mails.

Below is the actual e-mail I received from Bill Hannegan so that you can judge for yourself if this was just friendly advice:

From: keepst.louisfree@gmail.com
Subject: Re: DD’s Irish Pub & Karaoke, formerly Double D Lounge
Date: September 26, 2010 12:30:29 PM CDT
To: [Martin Pion’s e-mail]
Cc: michael@marthbrothers.com, scott@marthbrothers.com, tonypalazzolo@hotmail.com

Mr. Pion,

I have to warn you that there could be liability issues here. Be very careful about damaging the reputation of or injuring the business of the Double D Lounge or Marth Brothers with the results of tests conducted without the owner’s permission or cooperation.


Below is pasted Tony Palazzolo’s OpEd reproduced from the Riverfront Times web post:

Tuesday Tussle
Wash. U. Study Got it WRONG: Smoke Eaters Do Work
By Tony Palazzolo, Tue., Sep. 28 2010 @ 2:46PM

Tony Palazzolo is an active member of Keep St. Louis Free and a strong believer in personal rights.

Tony Palazzolo is an active member of Keep St. Louis Free and a strong believer in personal rights.
​Earlier this month Washington University released a study on air quality in smoking-allowed and smoke-free bars and restaurants in St Louis. They used nicotine as the marker to gauge environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) levels in all venues.

If you accept the conclusions of the study you should probably never leave the safe confines of your home. While nicotine was present in all venues it was on average thirty one times higher in smoking-allowed venues. This, they say, is proof that the air in these venues is deadly. What they left out of the press release that the nicotine levels were, at worst 500 times safer than OSHA standards in the establishments tested. Even at 31 times higher, it is still 500 times more dilute than would be considered harmful by OSHA. These are not arbitrary numbers but rigorously-tested standards developed by OSHA for all environments.

The other “finding” in this study is that they were surprised that establishments with ventilation had higher levels of nicotine.

According to the study, ventilation purportedly adds nicotine into the air. Even if the dubious claim that ventilation “just recirculates” ETS were true, it wouldn’t add more smoke to the environment. Even if systems were 100% ineffective they would have similar levels of ETS, not more.

​A basic tenet of research is that all the information is released along with the study. In order for the research to be validated it needs to be replicated with similar results. Washington University not only withheld the venues that were tested but also the ventilation systems in use at these venues. Researchers are usually eager to release all the data resulting in such important findings. Why then would they withhold important data with a study that rewrites the laws of chemistry?

This is what is commonly referred to as “science by press release”. The point of the study was not the effectiveness of ventilation. It was to spread fear and misinformation to the public. They believe the public lacks the common sense and intelligence to question their results. The study was never meant to be scrutinized. It was meant to be released to the media and used as sound bytes in future press releases.

With, the results of the test showing air quality to be 500 times safer than OSHA standards. With, their conclusions not supported by any data they released. With their nonsensical findings that ventilation acts as a multiplier of ETS. We should all question what the researchers at Washington University were smoking.

Note: Read Martin Pion’s response: Wash U. Got it RIGHT: Smoke Eaters Don’t Work

12 responses to “RFT 09/28/2010: “Wash. U. Study Got it WRONG: Smoke Eaters Do Work”

  1. Two things on your preamble to my article – Your right that OSHA doesn’t not measure ETS. However they measure all chemicals including nicotine in ETS. This is not unique as they would measure not welding smoke, but the individual chemicals.

    You should point out that my main concern with the study is that didn’t release what types of ventilation systems they tested. The names of the venues are a curiousity but not that important.

  2. mogasp, You said “Except that OSHA doesn’t HAVE a standard applicable to airborne nicotine from smoking!”

    So what is an unsafe level of nicotine airborne or otherwise and please show the study and the dose response curve.

    Marshall P. Keith

  3. mogasp, I was doing a bit of thinking about this OSHA/Smoke thing. I can understand Antismokers arguing that OSHA’s regs on smoke components don’t apply because its harmful effects could be synergistic…

    BUT… hasn’t OSHA had to deal with the same sort of problem when dealing with workplaces with exposure to auto-exhaust; e.g. tunnel or parking garage workers? Parking garages and tunnels are convenient, but obviously not necessary. Has OSHA been deceiving the public by saying it’s adequate to monitor just a few components of exhaust? I believe exhaust/components has/have been shown to be of “Class A” status and thus by definition have “no-safe level.” Am I incorrect?

    I believe the same holds true for high temp fat frying in commercial kitchens, both for direct chefs AND for others forced to share the same building. I think OSHA only monitors a few chemicals, and ASHRAE has seemingly somehow concluded ventilation is 100% effective since they have no disclaimers I’m aware of.

    – MJM

  4. Official OSHA Policy on Secondhand Smoke

    “Because the organic material in tobacco doesn’t burn completely, cigarette smoke contains more than 4,700 chemical compounds. Although OSHA has no regulation that addresses tobacco smoke as a whole, 29 CFR 1910.1000 Air contaminants, limits employee exposure to several of the main chemical components found in tobacco smoke. In normal situations, exposures would not exceed these permissible exposure limits (PELs), and, as a matter of prosecutorial discretion, OSHA will not apply the General Duty Clause to ETS.” (02/24/2003 – Reiteration of Existing OSHA Policy on Indoor Air Quality: Office Temperature/Humidity and Environmental Tobacco Smoke. Standard Number: 1910.1000.)


  5. In order receive the designation HEPA [high efficiency particulate air], these filters have to remove almost all the particles from the air they process. The filters have the most trouble with .3 micron particles. HEPA filters must capture 99.97 percent of .3 micron particles. Smaller and larger particles are captured at a higher rate.
    [mogasp comment: This conforms with the definition found in Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HEPA]

  6. Examining OSHA/ASHRAE policies it’s pretty clear neither has ever felt it necessary to make blanket regulations for such combinatorial emissions as car exhaust, cooking fumes, cleaning solutions, or tobacco smoke. The closest either seems to have come is ASHRAE’s agreement to make special note that “according to cognizant authorities” the risk from tobacco smoke is somehow actually magical and different from the risks of all other combusting and chemical air pollutants, defying normal laws of biology and physics in being controllable by manmade science. HEPA filters and such things are merely heathen attempts to challenge the power of God/gods, much as the Tower of Babel did in times of yore. The Church has not yet weighed in, but in the past has sided with the concept that those who exhale smoke are allied with Satan. Perhaps that is the real answer.

    Somehow though… I don’t think so.

    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”

    [mogasp: 968 characters total]

  7. Great Post, I’m trying to learn this. Your web give me a reference to be considered. Thanks

  8. Bill
    If you add electrostatic filtration you are down to 0.01 micron.

    With electrostatic precipitation, extremely small particulates (.01 – 1 micron) can be filtered out. The smallest particulates a Hepa filter can filter out is .3 microns.

    And if you add charcoal filtration to that you reduce some of those pesky gases.

    Activated charcoal in an air cleaner can be used to remove gases and odor-causing small particles that a HEPA filter will not effect. Activated charcoal is a form of carbon that has been reduced to a very fine size. It interacts to bind pollutants and remove them from the medium (air or water) that passes through it; activated charcoal is often used in water filtration systems. It is also recommended in case of accidental poisoning; taking activated charcoal will cause the poison to bind to the carbon and pass harmlessly out of the system.

    Marshall P. Keith

  9. Marshall, I checked with the National Air Filtration Association. They say HEPA has the most trouble with .3 micron particles and captures those at a rate of at least 99.97 percent. Particles smaller and larger are captured at rates near 100 percent.


  10. ::sigh:: Remember back in our more innocent days when 99 and 44/100ths percent pure was all that we needed to feel squeaky clean?


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