Denver Airport: Have Inhaler, Will Travel

DENVER AIRPORT’S SMOKING LOUNGES

Lambert KSDK Still

When Colin Nichols, a British airline passenger, was interviewed by reporter Linton Johnson near one of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport’s “smoking booths” in July 1998, he described it in graphic terms:

“I call it a Death Box …. It looks like a sort of Living Coffin.”

Rand Kannenberg doesn’t describe the smoking lounges at Denver international Airport (DIA) in quite such graphic terms. However, as a smoke-sensitive asthmatic he is still “fuming” about them, according to a Denver CBS4-TV investigative report by Rick Sallinger, posted on-line on December 22, 2006.

[Please click CBS4TV_DIA_061222 for an illustrated pdf version you can view and download.]

Denver Intl Still
Rand Kannenberg in DIA

Rand Kannenberg told the reporter he’d had to use an inhaler twice while in the airport. Now he’s suing Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and Manager of Aviation Turner West, alleging the smoking lounges in the airport are in violation of the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act (CCIAA).

On January 3, 2007, Rand Kannenberg appeared before Judge Raymond N. Satter who spent nearly 30 minutes reviewing the evidence and listening to testimony from Mr. Kannenberg. The primary expert testimony presented was provided by Missouri GASP (click here to download a PDF version). Judge Satter eventually dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction without prejudice on the grounds it was “a criminal and not a civil matter,” while recommending that Mr. Kannenberg pursue his case with the District Attorney.

Rand Kannenberg subsequently wrote to Deputy District Attorney Henry R. Reeve the same day. He also e-mailed a note of appreciation to Missouri GASP in which he wrote:

Martin,

You were and still are my case. You’re the best. THANK YOU.

Rand

BACKGROUND

In June 2004, the ALA of Colorado and GASP of Colorado jointly produced an in-depth report titled “Tobacco Industry Involvement in Colorado,” available on-line here. You can read the section detailing the tobacco industry’s successful efforts at promoting smoking accommodations in Denver’s airports[PDF]. Here is a revealing excerpt:

“An internal February 1994 Philip Morris email states, “The deal at Denver [airport] is not…public. We are doing an advertising deal with a restaurant there. We get advertising in exchange for paying for the ventilation system for the two lounges. All press reports have given the restaurant – Pour Le France, PLF – complete credit. That is just the way we like it.” “[Emphasis added.]

Denver International Airport’s smoking lounges and the smoking booths in Lambert-St. Louis International Airport operate on the same principle:

Conditioned air is drawn in from adjoining “No Smoking” areas of the Denver Airport via louvers above the windows (or through an open doorway at Lambert Airport). It is then sucked into ceiling vents connected to dedicated ductwork and exhausted outside the airport. The suction is provided by separate exhaust fans.

The still photos below were taken from the CBS4-TV investigative report by Rick Sallinger in DIA, referenced above. The vents shown above the windows flanking the entrance to the smoking lounge are provided specifically for the supply of makeup air from adjoining “No Smoking” parts of the airport.

Window louver

Window louver

A “smoke test” conducted by Steve LeDuc, smoking lounge manager, is shown below:

Intake smoke test

Intake smoke test

This still image shows simulated smoke from a commercial smoke generator (a plastic squeeze bottle containing fine silica powder) being drawn into one of the louvered vents in the smoking lounge. David Mosteller, owner of two of the smoking lounges, had this to say of Rand Kannenberg who had filed the complaints against the lounges:

“I think he was a bit, er, either misinformed or just not knowledgeable on the sophistication of our ventilation system.”

It turns out that Mr. Mosteller is not only fooling us, he is being fooled himself. The tobacco industry has been working assiduously for decades to promote “Accommodation” of smoking, especially in important venues like major airports. Their allies in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry profit from persuading building owners that installing costly ventilation systems is a reasonable alternative to simply going smoke-free.

But smoke-sensitive asthmatics, like Rand Kannenberg, can attest to what Missouri GASP has proved conclusively in a peer-reviewed paper: “Smoking rooms don’t work.”[PDF].

Most secondhand smoke consists of invisible particulates and gases, and while some, including the larger visible particles, are entrained in the air being sucked out the ceiling exhausts, the rest will backstream or diffuse out of any openings into adjoining “No Smoking” areas where the secondhand smoke concentration is lower than in the smoking area, as illustrated below for a typical open-doored “smoking booth” in Lambert Airport.

Smoking Room 4C
Lambert Smoking Room
For a detailed scientific explanation of why such rooms don’t work please refer to the science of secondhand smoke here.

28 responses to “Denver Airport: Have Inhaler, Will Travel

  1. Interesting. According to MOGASP tobacco smoke contains Magickal “invisible” particles that defy the normal laws of physics and go against the airstream while Mundane “visible” particles of course have to act within the normal rules of the universe. And these people DARE to stand up and say they represent SCIENCE?

    To show how ridiculous it is to worry about a single separately ventilated smoking area in a restaurant, even if it was a full bar where smokers and their friends could relax and enjoy themselves, all one has to do is look at two of the major worrisome components of smoke: Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Nitrogen Oxide (NO) In high concentrations the former is bad for the heart and can kill, and the latter is an irritant that would hurt asthmatics like the one in the story.)

    According to the Surgeon Generals’ Report on Environmental Tobacco Smoke, a cigarette puts out a total of 3 mg of NO and 40 mg of CO. The 1995 EPA study on airplane emissions cites a single 747 takeoff/landing at about 115 pounds of NO and 32 pounds of CO: that’s 52 million mg of NO and 14 million mg of CO if you do the math.

    Doing a bit more math for a typical 500 takeoffs/landings per day shows us that the nice clean smokefree air being pumped into Denver’s terminals has the CO equivalent of over 160 million cigarettes and the NO of Eight and a Half BILLION cigarettes.

    All of which is being shwooshed right into the lungs of travelers who are supposedly receiving a “dangerous dose” from a few cigarettes being puffed in secluded and sealed off terminal areas.

    This would almost be funny if it weren’t so sad. We’re letting our laws and rules be determined by witchdoctors instead of scientists.

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

    References:
    1986 SG Report pgs. 129, 130, 136
    EPA Report “Technical Data… Commercial Aviation” 09/29/95

    • Mr. McFadden, I’ve allowed your post but you happen to be attacking me on a subject on which I’m well versed. As a physicist and scientist, my last specialty was fabricating semiconductor laser diodes in clean room conditions using a process called Liquid Phase Epitaxy. A fundamental scientific law governing that work was “diffusion” which in plain English, says that sub-micron particles move from areas of high concentration to areas of low concentration, i.e. down the concentration gradient. Energetic sub-micron particles behave this way even in the presence of a countervailing force.

      The first U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on secondhand smoke, published in 1986, has a section on page 137 entitled “Number and Size Distribution of Particles in Environmental Tobacco Smoke.” What caught my attention was this paragraph:

      “Several studies have measured the particle distribution of SS [sidestream or secondhand smoke] under controlled conditions (Table 5), and indicate that the mass median diameter (MMD) of ETS is between approximately 0.2 microns and 0.4 microns. … ETS particles are in the diffusion-controlled regime for particle removal and therefore will tend to follow stream lines, remain airborne for long periods of time, and rapidly disperse through open volumes.”

      The above report can be viewed/downloaded by going to http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/index.html

      Subsequent studies I have conducted near an airport smoking room with an open doorway, and that have been verified independently for Missouri GASP, have confirmed that secondhand smoke behaves in the way described above, and can be detected at significant concentrations at a distance of about 40 ft. from the open doorway of an airport smoking room operating under negative pressure, as indicated by the presence of nicotine vapor, which is a unique surrogate for secondhand tobacco smoke.

      You can read the peer-reviewed paper I coauthored with Dr. Michael Givel on-line by doing a Google search on the title: “Airport smoking rooms don’t work.”

  2. Why did he go into the smoking area?

    • Bob: Rand Kannenberg didn’t have to go INTO the designated smoking room. Just being near it was enough of an exposure to force him to use his inhaler. You’d be surprised how far secondhand smoke will migrate from a smoking room in an airport, even one provided with an exhaust like the ones in Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. In our test of one of those rooms we found significant levels of nicotine vapor (a unique surrogate for secondhand smoke) 40 ft. from the smoking room entrance, indicating an unsafe environment for nonsmokers nearby. Check out the peer-reviewed research paper I coauthored by Googling the title Airport smoking rooms don’t work.

  3. Thank you for the reference to your paper. I would like to note several things:

    1) You note that your paper found “significant concentrations” outside the smoking room. I believe that description is inaccurate. A more accurate one would be that you found “detectable concentrations.” I would be telling a lie if I said that one brand of chocolate cake was “significantly more fattening” than another brand simply because I found that one cake had 2,167 calories while the other one had only 2,166 calories. As I’ll point out in #4 below, you’ve found one cake with about 1 calorie and are acting as though it is reasonable to discuss it in the same manner as another cake with 2,167 calories when counseling someone that they should give up cake because of weight concerns.

    2) You note that your paper is “peer-reviewed.” That’s quite true, but most folks don’t understand what “peer-reviewed” really means. Basically it means that the editors of in charge of a professional journal or particular area of such a journal have decided your paper is done decently enough and/or advances a position that they believe in promoting enough, that it is worthwhile to pass it on to one or more reviewers… people who may be independently chosen by the journal from a pool or simply from a set of your own recommendations. One or several such reviewers also then read your paper, criticize it, and perhaps recommend to the journal’s main editors whether or not to accept and publish it. In the case of “Tobacco Control” the main editors are obviously quite likely to be biased in favor of any paper that advances smoking bans since such “DeNormalization” activity has been a cornerstone of efforts to reduce smoking incidence since the mid 1970s. The independent reviewer(s), even if not chosen by yourself, are likely to also be of the same bias. Thus flaws and inadequacies in the paper are likely to be overlooked unless they are truly egregious (heh… and sometimes even if they ARE truly egregious.) Peer review, in and of itself, does not make a scientific paper equal to The Word Of The Lord. It is simply a way of disposing of the worst of what’s out there so that other researchers can save some time in their own reading and research.

    3) While it’s true that extraordinarily small particles (you speak of .2 micron level particles) might behave differently in an aerodynamic fashion than larger particles there is no study I am aware of that shows anything indicating any threat from tobacco smoke particles of such size at the concentrations measured. Merely detecting the existence of such particles is meaningless in terms of policy development.

    ===

    4) A final and somewhat more detailed point…

    Your paper includes the following information: “The 1997–98 Lambert Airport test yielded an average nicotine vapour concentration of 0.46 mg/cu m versus
    0.72 mg/cu m for the 2002 test near the same location (table 1).
    The comparative measurement inside non-smoking Sea-Tac Airport in 1998 was 0.15 mg/cu m (table 1).”

    That represents an increased level of about .4 micrograms/m^3.

    An average worker in a non-demanding job inhales roughly 10 liters of air per minute, or about .6 m^/hr. Thus a nonsmoker would be inhaling roughly .24 extra micrograms of nicotine in they worked in that location for an hour, or about 2 micrograms per 8 hour shift. An average full strength cigarette gives the average smoker about 1.2 milligrams per cigarette smoked.That’s roughly 600 days worth of exposure of a nonsmoking worker outside the smoking room.

    Given holidays, weekends, vacations, sick leave and the like your study showed that a worker would have to work there for almost two and a half years in order to inhale the equivalent of a single cigarette.

    I submit that to worry about such a thing borders more on psychosis than on sanity. It is similar to worrying about having to walk through a beam of sunlight shining in an open door because it could give you skin cancer. Is the risk real in either case? Well, if you believe in the no-threshold theory of carcinogenesis then yes, it is surely real. Is it something any sane individual would actually worry about? Of course not. If an employee went to airport authorities and complained that they occasionally had to walk through a sunbeam they would probably be summarily fired or referred to psychiatric counseling while put on leave as a potentially unstable threat to passengers. Thirty years ago, before the mass cultural conditioning brought about through thousands of hours of lifelong exposures to antismoking media messages, an individual with a similar complaint about such low exposures to smoke would also, and rightfully, have been treated the same.

    While the analogy is imperfect, what you are suggesting is similar to someone hypothesizing that if 100 people out of a 1,000 drowned while crossing a hundred foot wide pool of 10 foot deep water that 1 would drown crossing a similar sized pool of water about an inch deep. Does the one inch deep pool pose a threat? Surely… at some level. It’s always possible you’ll faint on your way across, land face down, and drown rather than regain consciousness. If there is an amusement park ride that derives part of its fun from attendants spending their days sloshing around in water a inch deep should it be banned because of the danger to those attendants? Of course not… and yet that is the sort of thing you are proposing in your interpretation of your study results.

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

  4. To avoid confusion, it should be noted that the quote from your paper translated the Greek “mu” symbol in micrograms as an “m” so that it looked like milligrams in my point #4 above. Corrected it would read like this from the original:

    Your paper includes the following information: “The 1997–98 Lambert Airport test yielded an average nicotine vapour concentration of 0.46 micrograms/cu m versus
    0.72 micrograms/cu m for the 2002 test near the same location (table 1).
    The comparative measurement inside non-smoking Sea-Tac Airport in 1998 was 0.15 micrograms/cu m (table 1).”

    – MJM

  5. How many consecutive days was this experiment carried out? Ventilation systems can be over ridden when the wind is blowing strongly from a certain direction, especially if it’s blowing INTO the exhasust direction and away from the entrance, usually a few days a year.

    • The first test, using a passive nicotine monitor, was conducted over many days due to the slow sampling rate. That was done with the help of a gate agent who wore the nicotine monitor when on duty at the gate. The second test was done over a period of four hours using an improved sampling method in which a mini-pump drew air through the nicotine monitor at a known rate. That test was conducted independently for Missouri GASP by an environmental consulting firm. You really don’t have any basis for challenging the results.

  6. According to ASH, every one in the room should have died after being there for a half hour.

    • Where’s your reference for this assertion? My understanding of the latest science is that there are rapid physical changes in individuals exposed to SHS but they are not typically immediately life-threatening except for individuals with pre-existing conditions like heart disease or chronic asthma.

  7. michaeljmcfadden

    Mogasp wrote, “My understanding of the latest science is that there are rapid physical changes in individuals exposed to SHS but they are not typically immediately life-threatening except for individuals with pre-existing conditions like heart disease or chronic asthma.”

    Mogasp, I challenge YOU in turn to find any reference backing up the claim that there are “rapid physical changes in individuals exposed to (NORMAL) levels of SHS” that are “immediately life-threatening” to “individuals with … heart disease.”

    I do not believe such a reference exists, partticularly when speaking of levels such as existed at the measuring points of your study. If you have proper references please supply them. Otherwise admit there are none and please retract your statement.

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

    • Michael, It’s taken a long time to approve your comments and I apologize for the delay. I should have either approved or rejected them much sooner. I wanted to do some research beforehand but I simply haven’t found the time, nor do I have the time now.
      Your comments are welcome, whether I agree with them or not, especially as long as they remain respectful of differing points of view.

  8. michaeljmcfadden

    Mogasp, I am still awaiting the references to back up your claims, and I am still waiting for my comment of Nov. 27th, a week ago, to be made visible to other readers.

    – MJM

  9. Sorry for taking so long. Heres the source of the 1’2 hour death from smoke. It’s ASH, one of the top authorities on second hand smoke.
    http://www.pr-inside.com/smoking-bans-saving-many-lives-r1488584.htm

    • Please note that I’ll allow this post but in future I won’t entertain posts from anonymous individuals. You will need to provide your real identify and not hide behind a pseudonym. ASH is a pretty reliable source generally.

    • Your comment will be allowed since it was submitted awhile back (and sorry for the delay in posting) but please note the new rule: You MUST provide your full name and not simply a pseudonym to be considered for posting on this blog in future.

  10. All scientific positing aside, it remains a possibility that Mr. Kannenberg’s inhaler usage was stress, or otherwise, psychosomatically induced. Also, the magic word “lawsuit” congures up all manner of unseemly possibilities. A skeptic questions the message, but a cynic questions the agenda of the messenger, as well.

    • From my interactions with Mr. Kannenberg I concluded that he was a highly smoke-sensitive asthmatic, like others I know, and he simply wanted to be able to use Denver Airport without being exposed to secondhand smoke, which sickened him. There was no attempt to gain financial benefit of which I’m aware.

  11. Mogasp, I am awaiting as well the references to back up your claims, and I am still waiting for Mr. McFadden’s comment of Nov. 27th, to be made visible to other readers.

    Thank you

  12. A blind person was smoking too close to a bar entrance and some anti was reading him the riot act. The bar is now looking to purchase a “talking sign” constantly repeating “no smoking within 15 feet” If these are going to be required for all businesses, the streets will really become noisy.

  13. I forgot, here’s the link to the 30 munute death notice from ASH.

    http://ash.org/ashvindicated.html

    • Bob, Please note that your current comments are being allowed but note that in future those wanting to comment will need to provide their real identities and not hide behind a pseudonym, apart from occasional exceptions.

  14. Mogasp, I’m always respectful in my postings, though I don’t mind lobbing grenades back when they’re tossed.

    :>
    Michael

  15. Hello Martin! I apologize for the length of time I’ve been away here. Lost track of things I guess, as you may have as well.

    In any event, we had left off with my Nov. 29th 2009 posting above where I posed a question to you. I’ll repeat it here just for clarity. You indicated that you did not have time to respond properly back on Feb. 13th, but it’s almost six months later at this point and my question was fairly simple and straightforward. Here it is again, complete with the intro of your earlier posting:

    ===

    Mogasp wrote, “My understanding of the latest science is that there are rapid physical changes in individuals exposed to SHS but they are not typically immediately life-threatening except for individuals with pre-existing conditions like heart disease or chronic asthma.”

    Mogasp, I challenge YOU in turn to find any reference backing up the claim that there are “rapid physical changes in individuals exposed to (NORMAL) levels of SHS” that are “immediately life-threatening” to “individuals with … heart disease.”

    I do not believe such a reference exists, partticularly when speaking of levels such as existed at the measuring points of your study. If you have proper references please supply them. Otherwise admit there are none and please retract your statement.

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

    ====

    So, let’s pick up where we left off!

    🙂
    Michael

    • Hello Michael, There’s been a long delay on my part in responding adequately to your comments, during which I’ve also had time to ponder them. I apologize for the delay.
      I believe you may be correct in challenging this assertion when it comes to healthy individuals and heart disease, although it still appears to be a gray area.
      I would still argue strongly that SHS has no place in indoor environments open to the public or used as a private workplace employing more than one person. SHS is highly irritating to some individuals and is a serious barrier to those suffering from breathing disabilities caused or exacerbated by SHS exposure. A prime example of the latter are SHS-affected severe asthma sufferers.
      Regards,
      Martin

    • Michael, I’m afraid I don’t have time to do more than belatedly approve your post. This particular blog is now closed. Regards, Martin for MoGASP.

  16. Hello Martin! Thank you for the considered response to my Nov. 1009 comment (heh… sorry… but ya gotta take SOME digs for the delay guy! :> )

    And thank you for an honest response of “I believe you may be correct in challenging this assertion when it comes to healthy individuals and heart disease, although it still appears to be a gray area.”

    However my actual challenge was ” to find any reference backing up the claim that there are “rapid physical changes in individuals exposed to (NORMAL) levels of SHS” that are “immediately life-threatening” to “individuals with … heart disease.” ”

    I believe that the year’s delay in response is a strong indication that I am *fully* correct in my beliefe that there ARE NO real bases of evidence indicating “rapid physical changes (from normal ETS exposures) that are immediately life-threatening to individuals with heart disease” (at least not in individuals with heart disease at such a level that they’re still partying in bars or working as waiters etc). There is no “gray area” about whether such evidence exists that I have seen.

    Now that being said, I will not deny that *Antismokers* have created immediately life threatening conditions for such individuals by fertilizing the ground that creates such enormous emotional upset in such encounters that they might have a heart attack. That’s the fault of the antismoking movement rather than the fault of smokers however.

    (Second half continued below…)

  17. You go on to re-emphasize the point about individuals with severe smoke-sensitive-triggered asthma though, and there I would give partial, although very reserved, agreement. Yes, there are surely some individuals out there who might walk into a restaurant or hotel with smokers, (or barbeque particulates, cleaning fumes, deodorisers, perfumes, cat hairs/dander from previous guests, or even candlelite roses on dinner tables) who would be triggered into an asthma attack by the mere physical presence, even if very low, of such elements.
    (Continued from above…)

    But does that justify making actual universal government laws criminalizing and/or fining/closing-down businesses/individuals who allow such things in their premises or engage in activities (such as cat-ownership and not showering/changing before leaving one’s contaminated apartment) that engender those conditions?

    I’m quite sure you would say “Of course not!” for just about any and all of those conditions — except smoking. And smoking is different in your estimation not because of any real evidence that it produces MORE of an effect than those other things, but because you both believe it is a “bad thing” that should be worked against in general and because you have years of background of disliking it and working against it.

    Perhaps it would be good to have a regulation in which businesses have to post warnings on their doors of the presence of many such things to caution those who might enter or be thinking of working in such a place (Just think of all the poor asthmatic cat-sensitive maids who can’t work at high-paying job at the rich cat-lady’s mansion despite needing to feed their children!), but it certainly is *NOT* good for the government to be stepping in with laws regulating all those things.

    There is NO sound reason for insisting that ALL bars and private clubs or any other universally adult establishment (at a minimum) suffer business losses, fines, criminal penalties, or closure under such laws rather than being able to simply put up “warning notices.”

    Martin, even if you want to take a bit of time (heehee.. not QUITE as much though!) in responding to this, can you let it be posted up if you’re still online at the moment? Thanks!

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

    P.S. An additional note: No, I do not consider arguments about being allowed to put up warning notices about asbestos and rat feces to be in the same ball-park: Show me a substantial body of the public that would PREFER to go to such establishments (quite aside from the other, and equally valid, “hidden danger” argument of health and fire regulations.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s