People smoking hookah in their homes generate carbon monoxide, a toxic gas, and tiny pollution particles known as PM 2.5 at levels at least double those produced by cigarettes, according to a recent study in Dubai. Even in the rooms adjacent to where people smoked hookah, air pollution levels were much higher than in rooms where cigarettes were actively smoked, researchers report in the journal Tobacco Control.
"There are widespread misconceptions that hookah is a safer alternative to cigarettes," said lead author Dr. Michael Weitzman, a professor at New York University School of Medicine.
"Smoking hookahs (water pipes) at home can be terribly dangerous for the smoker, but perhaps more importantly, for children and other people living in the home," Weitzman told Reuters Health by email.
During one hookah-smoking session, a smoker can inhale the equivalent of the smoke from 150 cigarettes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hookahs are among alternative tobacco products like chewing tobacco whose use has been on the rise in the U.S., especially among young people, the study authors note.
To determine the effect smoking has on indoor environments, the study team collected air samples from 33 homes in Dubai: 11 where only hookah smoking occurred, 12 with only cigarette smoking and 10 with no smoking at all.
The study team sampled the air quality in the rooms where people smoked and in an adjacent room during about one hour of hookah or cigarette smoking, and compared the readings to nonsmoking homes.
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