12 of 16 restaurants tested contained air pollution levels exceeding the annual U.S. EPA recommendation for air quality
More than two years after Nevada
voters passed legislation banning smoking in a majority of the state’s indoor
public places and all of its restaurants, researchers from UNLV and the University of Kentucky
have found that restaurants in some Southern Nevada
casinos still contain unsafe levels of secondhand smoke.
With the close proximity of non-smoking restaurants to
smoking-allowed gaming areas, UNLV assistant professor of nursing Nancy York
and Kiyoung Lee, associate professor of public health at the University of
Kentucky, measured air quality samples from 16 casinos in Southern Nevada to
gauge the relationship between overall indoor air quality and restaurant air
Researchers tested eight on-Strip and eight off-Strip
casino restaurant and gaming areas in Henderson
and Las Vegas
between November 2007 and March 2008. While all tested casino restaurant areas
had less secondhand smoke pollution than casino gaming areas, 12 of 16 restaurants
tested contained air pollution levels exceeding the annual U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) recommendation for air quality. Three of these 12
restaurants exceeded levels recommended by the EPA as safe for children, the
elderly and those with heart or lung diseases.
“Even though casino restaurants are supposed to be
non-smoking by state law, the open air floor plan of casinos creates a shared
air space, resulting in secondhand smoke migrating from the gaming floor into
the restaurants and creating health hazards of secondhand smoke exposure to
those present, whether it is workers or patrons,” said Nancy York, UNLV
assistant professor of nursing and lead investigator on the study. “Secondhand
smoke naturally drifts in the air currents and ventilation systems can
distribute secondhand smoke throughout a building.”
Air quality in gaming areas of all casinos tested exceeded
levels the EPA recommends as safe, confirming previous studies showing that the
majority of casino gaming areas have unsafe levels of air pollution.
“These findings have serious life-threatening consequences
for casino employees and patrons,” said York.
“Previous research has found smoke-filled casinos can have up to 50 times more
cancer-causing particles in the air than highways and city streets during rush
hour traffic. Our research helps to confirm this.”
Chris Pritsos, a University of Nevada, Reno professor,
found in his previous research that casino employees exposed to secondhand
smoke at work suffer from increased DNA damage, which can lead to greater risks
of developing cancers and heart disease.
plans to expand the study to include additional non-smoking areas in casinos
such as daycare areas, movie theaters, arcades and bowling alleys.
The Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act was enacted in December
2006 and prohibits smoking in all indoor spaces in Nevada with the exception of areas typically
off-limits to children, including casino gaming areas.
Study finds poor air quality persists in some casino restaurants
January 16, 2009