Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke in naturalistic settings

Am J Public Health. 1992 Jan;82(1):24-8. doi: 10.2105/ajph.82.1.24.


Background: Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) has been identified as a risk factor for chronic disease among nonsmokers. Results of epidemiological surveys suggest that the majority of nonsmokers have regular ETS exposure. However, little is known about the topography of exposure.

Methods: An exposure diary was used by 186 nonsmokers to self-monitor ETS exposure over a 7-day period. Subjects also completed a questionnaire that assessed their patterns of ETS exposure.

Results: The primary source of ETS exposure was the workplace, except when there was a smoker in the household, in which case the household was the primary source. The presence of a smoker in the household resulted in higher levels of exposure both at work and in other locations when compared with subjects without household exposure. Subjects' assessments of exposure on the questionnaire were consistently lower than their self-monitored levels. This finding suggests that general exposure ratings underestimate exposure.

Conclusions: This study provides a new understanding of the patterns of ETS exposure and may help guide the development of policies and interventions designed to reduce ETS exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Environmental Monitoring / standards
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Epidemiological Monitoring
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Records / standards*
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / prevention & control
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / statistics & numerical data*


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution