Characterising the Exposure of Prison Staff to Second-Hand Tobacco Smoke

Second-hand tobacco smoke (SHS) is an avoidable and harmful exposure in the
workplace but prison staff continue to be exposed on a daily basis. SHS
exposures in prisons are incompletely understood but may be considerable given
the large proportion of smoking prisoners and limited ventilation.

This study characterized the exposure of prison staff to SHS in all 15 prisons
in Scotland using multiple methods. Exposure assessment strategies included
6-day area measurement of fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) and airborne nicotine
in each prison together with short (30-minute) measurements of PM2.5 covering a
range of locations/activities. Pre- and post-shift saliva samples were also
gathered from non-smoking staff and analysed for cotinine to estimate exposure.

There was evidence of exposure to SHS in all prisons from the results of PM2.5
and nicotine measurements. The salivary cotinine results from a sub-sample of
non-smoking workers indicated SHS exposures of similar magnitude to those
provided by the 6-day area measurements of PM2.5. There was a high degree of
exposure variability with some locations/activities involving exposure to SHS
concentrations that were comparable to those measured in bars in Scotland prior
to smoke-free legislation in 2006.

The median shift exposure to SHS-PM2.5 was ~20 to 30 µg m-3 and is broadly
similar to that experienced by someone living in a typical smoking home in
Scotland. This is the most comprehensive assessment of prison workers' exposure
to SHS in the world.

The results are highly relevant to the development of smoke-free policies in
prisons and should be considered when deciding on the best approach to provide
prison staff with a safe and healthy working environment.

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AplusA-online.de - Source: Annals of Work Exposures and Health