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Risk assessment and estimation of controlling safe distance for exposure to particulate matter from outdoor secondhand tobacco smoke

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A Correction to this article was published on 22 February 2024

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Exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS), and its intake through inhalation, is a major reason for premature death. Therefore, it is essential to determine safe distances from the smoking source to control passive exposure to tobacco smoke by carrying out appropriate risk assessments. In this study, we investigated the emission and diffusion of particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), along with black carbon, from smoking different kinds of cigarettes, including conventional cigarettes, heating e-cigarettes, and liquid e-cigarettes, using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis. The results were used to evaluate the risk of passive exposure to PM10 and PM2.5 at different distances from the smoker for the general population and 6–10-year-old children. Results of the risk analysis were compared by considering the accumulated mortality ratio caused by cancer, and circulatory and respiratory systems disorders as the baseline risk for these two population groups. Results show that normalized emitted aerosol from vaping liquid e-cigarettes is higher than when other types of cigarettes are used. We also detected the emission of black carbon, which has a statistically significant correlation with the emission of particulate matter. Our risk assessment analysis suggests a safe distance of 10 m from smokers for the general population as well as a greater distance for children.

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Data availability

The authors confirm that the data supporting the findings of this study are available within the article. Publicly available datasets of the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES) were analyzed in this study. These data can be found here: (accessed on 22 October 2021).

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This work was supported by the Research Program funded by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (fund code 2021-090724D-00).

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Authors and Affiliations



JY: conceptualization, methodology, validation, formal analysis, investigation, resources, writing–review and editing; SH: methodology, formal analysis, investigation, visualization, writing–original draft preparation; TK: conceptualization, writing–review and editing; JP: formal analysis, investigation, visualization; MP: formal analysis, investigation, visualization; WH: investigation; DP: formal analysis, writing–original draft preparation; YL: conceptualization, supervision, writing–review and editing.

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Correspondence to Youngwook Lim.

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Ethics approval

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) of Severance Hospital of the Yonsei University Health System approved the study design (approval number: 4-2021-1269).

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All subjects were compensated and were asked to sign a letter of consent that included a comprehensive explanation of the objectives and procedure of the research, data processing, publications, and privacy protection policies.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Yang, J., Hashemi, S., Kim, T. et al. Risk assessment and estimation of controlling safe distance for exposure to particulate matter from outdoor secondhand tobacco smoke. Air Qual Atmos Health 17, 139–154 (2024).

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