Environmental exposure to tobacco smoke and lung function in young adults

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1988 Aug;138(2):296-9. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm/138.2.296.


The relationship between lung function and environmental exposure to tobacco smoke (passive smoking) was studied in 293 nonsmoking young men and women, 15 to 35 yr of age. A self-administered mailed questionnaire was used to assess the lifetime environmental exposure to cigarette smoke at home and at work for each subject. Lung function information used here had been gathered in the course of a previous study of the determinants of lung function in early adulthood. In men, maximal midexpiratory flow rate (FEF25-75) decreased in relation to an index of cumulative lifetime environmental exposure to tobacco smoke at home, after taking into account the effects of cumulative exposure at work as well as age, height, body size, respiratory pressures, and cooking fuels used at home. The components of this exposure index most closely related to the reduction in FEF25-75 were maternal smoking habits and exposure to second-hand smoke during childhood. In women, the diffusing capacity of the lung (DLCO) decreased in relation to cumulative exposure to tobacco smoke at work, after accounting for the effects of cumulative lifetime exposure at home and the other factors mentioned above. These findings contribute to the gathering evidence that environmental exposure to tobacco smoke is harmful to respiratory health, and suggest that the effects are not insignificant. For instance, the FEF25-75 of a young man 20 yr of age who had never smoked and always lived at home would be 800 ml less if both his parents smoked than if they did not.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maximal Midexpiratory Flow Rate
  • Maximal Voluntary Ventilation
  • Peak Expiratory Flow Rate
  • Pulmonary Diffusing Capacity
  • Respiratory Function Tests*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Vital Capacity


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution