“Dream Project”

Quantifying the Contribution of Outdoor-Sourced Environmental Tobacco Smoke on Residential Indoor Air Quality and its Health Impacts in Modern Canadian Cities


It has been well established in the scientific literature that Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS), more commonly known as secondhand smoke, contains many carcinogenic compounds, and that there is no safe level of human exposure to ETS.  In a residential setting, the potential for adverse health impacts from ETS has received increasing attention in recent years as more people migrate to large cities and live in high-density housing, such as condominiums.  This research has resulted in suggestions to building design that eliminates air-flow between neighbouring units of multi-unit dwellings and laws that limit smoking to balconies.  However, the effect of outdoor-sourced ETS (OS-ETS) on indoor air quality may be of even greater concern, and has only recently started to be investigated.

The goal of this project is to quantify the level of OS-ETS a resident may be exposed to, the potential health impacts of such exposure, and possible remedies to reduce or eliminate this exposure.  In the first stage of our research, we propose writing a review paper that will collect and summarize the current state of scientific knowledge on exposure levels, health impacts and remedies.  Since much of the existing scientific work in this area has been initiated in the United States, our focus will be in highlighting findings that may relate to the large Canadian cities, with Vancouver residents being our primary target population.  From this review work, we will identify a few key scientific questions that will motivate the development of a research plan whose aim is to understand the extent of OS-ETS health impacts on Vancouver residents.