Millions of Americans are being exposed to toxic secondhand smoke and have a byproduct of nicotine in their blood without even knowing it.
That’s according to a new study published by University of Florida health researchers in the Nicotine and Tobacco Research journal.
The findings suggest 56 million Americans are unknowingly and routinely exposed to toxic secondhand smoke.
The researchers analyzed a survey of more than 13,000 adults and detected cotinine in the blood of 51% of people. Cotinine is an indicator that someone has been exposed to nicotine within a few days, primarily tobacco products.
But less than half of the people with evidence of secondhand smoke exposure reported being exposed to smoke.
It’s not entirely clear why the level of underreported exposure was so high.
“It could be the case that for low-level exposure, maybe you don’t notice it. You’re in a public setting, and maybe you’re not even aware someone is using tobacco around you. Maybe it’s so minor you forgot,” said Dr. Jennifer LeLaurin, the senior author of the study, in a University of Florida press release. “There’s also the possibility that some of the respondents were aware of some secondhand smoke exposure but chose not to report it due to the stigma.”
The data analyzed came from the U.S. National Health and Examination Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the years 2013 to 2020.
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