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The Wasp
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Bansturbators being rather selective with their reporting – Smoking in cars edition …

Isn’t it amazing how bansturbator types are all too happy to ignore research that contradicts their message, even if some of the contradiction is in the same damned research paper that they are using to press forward with their shroud waving calls to stop us doing something they deem bad for us?

It doesn’t help when our beloved state broadcaster simply recycles the given press release without actually performing any journalism at all.

Exhibit A, today’s BBC article on particulate levels in cars containing smokers :

Smoking in the car, even with the windows open or the air conditioning on, creates pollution that exceeds official “safe” limits, scientists say.

Any child sitting in the back of a car when someone in the front is smoking would be exposed to this.

A Scottish team who took measurements during 85 car journeys found readings broke World Health Organization limits, Tobacco Control journal reports.

The British Medical Association says all smoking in cars should be banned.

In 49 of the 85 journeys in total, the driver smoked up to four cigarettes.

During these 49 smoking journeys, levels of fine particulate matter averaged 85µg/m3, which is more than three times higher than the 25µg/m3 maximum safe indoor air limit recommended by the World Health Organization.

Even if the driver smoked only one cigarette and had the window wide open, particulate matter levels still exceeded the limit at some point during the journey.

On average, the level of second-hand smoke was between one-half and one-third of that measured in UK bars before the ban on smoking in public places came into force.

Levels averaged 7.4µg/m3 during the 34 smoke-free journeys.

So, to summarise, all smoking journeys had higher levels of small particles than deemed acceptable by the WHO and non-smoking journeys were nowhere near the limit.

If only it were that simple!

After digging around for the actual research paper and following several dozen news sources all carrying the same article but none of which carries a link to the actual paper (which suggests that a press release has been pushed far and wide by the BMA but they don’t want people seeing the rather unfortunate details), I finally found a copy hidden away HERE (opens PDF).

Reading through the research paper (which appears to date from 2011) we firstly find this little snippet (from page 7) :

PM2.5 concentrations

Table 2 presents the descriptive statistics of the mean and maximum PM2.5 found during smoking and non-smoking journeys, while Figure 1 shows the time-weighted average (TWA) PM2.5 for each journey, by participant. PM2.5 concentrations in 3 of the non-smoking journeys exceeded the 25 μg/m3 WHO guidance level for indoor air [16], while this occurred in all smoking journeys for between 11 and 100% of the journey time (53% of the time, on average).

With three of the non-smoking journeys having particulate levels above the safe limit, shouldn’t they be arguing that children are banned from all cars and not just those with smokers?

Then we find that it isn’t just smoking that causes increases in particulate concentrations :

Two non-smoking journeys where PM2.5 data were collected were excluded from the analysis due to use of early morning de-icing aerosol producing non-combustion related particulate increases during the beginning of the journey.

Ok, so now we have non-smoking journeys and deicer use making life dangerous for the little kiddies.

Anything else?

Well how about the actual limit they are using as their benchmark for the whole shroud waving business (emphasis mine) :

We have used the WHO PM2.5 guidance level as a comparison as this as the WHO has recently stated that the value can be applied both to indoor and outdoor exposures [16]. The comparison to this guidance should be done with some caution as this health-based value is based on a 24 hour time-weighted average. Clearly the exposures during car journeys we have measured are all much shorter than a 24-h averaging period but given recent work suggesting that there may be no safe level of exposure to SHS [18] we think that the use of the WHO indoor air standards for PM2.5 is a reasonable health-based method of comparison.

So, that is a 24 hour measurement period for the WHO limit which doesn’t exactly compare very well with the actual research data :

Journeys averaged 27 minutes (range 5- 70 minutes).

A difference that even a hardened bansturbator would have trouble arguing for if the actual results were being reported and not their own spin I think.

But, if you think they would have trouble spinning that one, how about this little gem hidden away near the end (page 10) of the paper (emphasis mine) :

The results can also be compared to the concentrations of PM2.5 that were measured in recent studies of tobacco smoke levels in bars in Scotland and England prior to the implementation of smoke-free legislation in 2006 and 2007 respectively. The mean PM2.5 concentration measured in cars in this study, for journeys where smoking occurred, was 85 μg/m3 which is about one-third of the average exposure level measured in bars in Scotland (246 μg/m3) and a little over half of the average level measured in bars in England (142 μg/m3) [2]. Typical PM2.5 levels in bars now that smoking is prohibited are of the order of 5-10 μg/m3, similar to those measured in the non-smoking car journeys. The recent BMA briefing paper on smoking in vehicles [9] initially stated that “the concentration of toxins in a smoke-filled vehicle is 23 times greater than that of a smoky bar, even under realistic ventilation conditions” [19] and cited studies from controlled conditions [11].Our data do not support this claim nor the BMA’s retraction issued the following day changing the text to “the concentration of toxins in a smoke-filled vehicle could be up to 11 times greater than that of a smoky bar.” Our study of a large number of real-life smoking journeys suggests that SHS concentrations measured over the duration of the journey are, on average, between one-half and one-third of the average levels measured in UK bars prior to smoke-free legislation.

A nice one to have in print next time the righteous start pulling numbers out of their backsides I think.

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11 comments to Bansturbators being rather selective with their reporting – Smoking in cars edition …

  • twitter_AngelinaWillium

    Smoking in car is really ridiculous!!

  • […] cars (yes, all cars, the children have ceased to be that relevant as predicted here 3 years ago), Wasp did some excellent digging which is worth a read in […]

  • Excellent analysis Wasp! And WONDERFUL job tracking down “the secret industry documents” that the Antismokers like to hide away in the background of their propaganda and press releases.

    I’d like to add a tiny note as well: While the Antis might like to point to the “one half to a third” levels of pre-ban pubs as still being something to worry about, they’re playing a game with that observation: most people reading that statement will think back to their pub visits on a crowded night of darts and music and pool as the comparison and think “Well, yeah, half of THAT is still pretty bad, eh?” But the level being compared is actually the TOTAL time level measured at the pub: including those periods when there were no customers smoking at all!

    The SCIA is attempting, in a very dishonest fashion, to rewrite the EPA and WHO 24-hour guidelines to apply to short (5 minute or more) periods DESPITE the explicit warnings of BOTH the EPA and the WHO **NOT** to do such a thing.

    Additionally, I just tracked down the tricky, incomplete, and misleading reference used for the “no safe level” statement. The EHP volume is actually 118(11) which takes us to the “a474” page. Once there, you find that the reference is NOT a primary reference at all!!! It’s a reference to an article written by a generalist EHP writer named Carol Potera. Potera in turn is referencing a quote from one of the nine subauthors of a different paper.

    Oh my… Sheeesh… It gets even WORSE!

    If you track down that different paper you’ll find that it’s a paper written back in 2010 by Crystal et al, and that the quote about NO SAFE LEVEL actually is based on a study of what they called “Low Exposure” subjects. Guess what? Of the 36 “Low Exposure” subjects, TWENTY-EIGHT of them were people who actually reported themselves as casual or social or “some level of” active smoking themselves!! Seriously! I have an “add-on” book to Brains planned for 2013 where I actually devoted a whole subsection to ripping apart this piece of nonsense!

    Wasp, I have more details on this if you’d like to do your own research and write a bit more extensively on it. I don’t see an easy way to contact you directly here? You should have my email from this post though if you want to get in touch?

    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”
    P.S. If you’re wondering how I stumbled into your nest today it was through F2C’s article on all this at: http://f2cscotland.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/scotsman-declares-smoking-ban-in-cars.html

    • Wasp

      Michael – thank you – I do enjoy having a dig into these things occasionally especially when something as presented is so one sided that you just know there is something worth digging for in the background. I will drop you an email separately 🙂

  • […] Nest has been doing some digging on this –  worth a read. Suffice to say, this is the overture to banning smoking on […]

  • The EPA guidelines say this, http://www.epa.gov/ttn/caaa/t1/memoranda/pmfinal.pdf:
    – If measurements are available for at least 75 percent (18 or more) of the hours during the 24-hour period, the 24-hour average is valid. You’ll compute it by summing the hourly concentrations and dividing by the number of hourly measurements.

    • If measurements are available for less than 75 percent (17 or less) of the hours during the 24-hour period, you must treat the 24-hour average as invalid, unless the concentrations are too high to be ignored.

    The times used were both well under 24 hours and the lower bound was below 25 µg/m3 for up to 11 per cent of the time. On both counts the claim that EPA guidelines can be stretched to cover these trials in motor cars is completely spurious.

    • Wasp

      Belinda – useful background on the limits (and their limitations) – thank you. It’s a shame that there are too many shroudwavers and assorted useful idiots (especially our supposed media) who will buy any old crap in a press release rather than look at the actual research and have a proper debate.