Evaluation of exposure to carbon monoxide associated with passive smoking

Environ Res. 2004 Mar;94(3):309-18. doi: 10.1016/S0013-9351(03)00135-X.


The current study measured breath carbon monoxide (CO) concentrations prior to and at prescribed time intervals after exposure to passive smoking under controlled conditions, along with the air CO concentration in the exposure room during the exposure periods. The postexposure breath CO levels were 1.4-2.7 times higher than the background breath CO levels after 30 min of exposure, yet only slightly higher after 10 min of exposure, thereby confirming that exposure to CO from passive smoking causes a significant body burden of CO. The air CO concentration gradually increased during the burning of a cigarette(s), regardless of the exposure duration, whereas it slightly decreased after burning. However, the pattern of breath CO decay was similar for the two different types of exposure (during and after a cigarette(s)) in each subject. The decrease in the postexposure alveolar CO concentrations was slow even in the early phase of the decay curves, indicating a monocompartment uptake and elimination model for the human body. The half-lives (78-277 min) estimated in the present study were comparable to those reported in previous studies associated with CO exposure from active smoking or other activities. The current study also evaluated the CO exposure of visitors and workers at three different types of recreation facility (bars, Internet cafes, and billiard halls) typically associated with passive smoking. The results confirmed that passive smoking is the major contributor to the CO exposure of nonsmoking visitors in a recreation environment. In addition, workplace exposure to CO from passive smoking was found to be the most important contributor to the daily CO exposure of nonsmoking recreation workers.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Burden
  • Breath Tests
  • Carbon Monoxide / analysis*
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Public Facilities
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / analysis*


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution
  • Carbon Monoxide