Annoyance and irritation by passive smoking

Prev Med. 1984 Nov;13(6):618-25. doi: 10.1016/s0091-7435(84)80012-2.


The acute irritating and annoying effects of smoke have been investigated in field and laboratory studies by examining the concentration of some smoke components in air. In the workplace, 30 to 70% of the indoor carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate concentrations are due to tobacco smoke; 25-40% of the employees are disturbed and/or annoyed by smoke and 25% suffer from eye irritation at work. Subjective eye, nose, and throat irritations and eye blink rate increase with increasing smoke concentration and increasing exposure duration. Irritation is due mainly to the particulate phase of environmental tobacco smoke, whereas the gas phase is, to a large extent, responsible for annoyance. It is concluded that healthy individuals can tolerate an environmental tobacco smoke level that corresponds to a carbon monoxide concentration of 1.5 to 2.0 ppm. Above these limits, countermeasures to protect passive smokers are necessary. In order not to exceed the upper tolerable threshold limit of 2.0 ppm carbon monoxide, it is necessary to have a fresh air supply of 33 m3 per hour per cigarette smoked. Special attention should be paid to groups of people with increased sensitivity to environmental tobacco smoke, e.g., asthmatics, allergic individuals, chronic bronchitis sufferers, and children.

MeSH terms

  • Acrolein / analysis
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / adverse effects
  • Blinking / drug effects
  • Carbon Monoxide / analysis
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Eye
  • Formaldehyde / analysis
  • Gases / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Irritants
  • Maximum Allowable Concentration
  • Nicotine / analysis
  • Nitrogen Oxides / analysis
  • Nose
  • Pharynx
  • Plants, Toxic*
  • Smoke / adverse effects*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / analysis
  • Tobacco*
  • Ventilation


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Gases
  • Irritants
  • Nitrogen Oxides
  • Smoke
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution
  • Formaldehyde
  • Nicotine
  • Acrolein
  • Carbon Monoxide