Friday, September 09, 2011

Children living with smokers miss more school

Secondhand smoke can lead to higher
absenteeism rates for school children.
In a national study released by the Massachusetts General Hospital, researchers confirm that school-aged children exposed to environmental tobacco smoke at home have higher absenteeism rates than those who do not.

These children exposed to household smoking were also found to have higher rates of respiratory illnesses that may be linked to tobacco smoke.

"Among children ages 6 to 11 who live with smokers, one quarter to one third of school absences are due to household smoking," says Douglas Levy, PhD, of the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at MGH, the paper's lead author.

"On a national basis these absences result in $227 million in lost wages and time for caregivers or their employers."

The authors note that one-third of U.S. children live with at least one smoker, and more than half of those aged 3 to 11 have detectable levels of a blood marker for tobacco exposure.

Second-hand smoking has been shown to increase incidence of ear infections and several respiratory conditions, and school absenteeism is an accessible measure of serious illness in children.

Children living with one in-home smoker had an average of 1.06 more days absent, and those living with two or more had 1.54 more days absent than did children living in homes where no one smoked indoors.

Study also looked at cost of smoke-related absences

The researchers also tallied the associated costs, including lost income for parents without paid time off, the costs to employers of the lost work, and the inability of caregivers not employed outside the home to take care of usual household tasks.

"The total impact nationwide was $227 million in lost wages and household work for the families of the 2.6 million children living with smokers and for their employers," Levy says.

"Since almost half of the smoking households in our study had low incomes, that impact may be strongest on households least able to afford it."

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The experts warn that the study only looked at a few problems connected with exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and that the real health impacts may be much worse.

Improve IAQ with air purifiers for smoke

While quitting smoking or having cigarettes outside is the best way to protect children from secondhand smoke exposure, a portable air purifier with a multistage filtration system may help remove dangerous indoor air pollutants.

AllerAir offers a series of air purifiers designed for smoke and feature special tar-trapping filters, a deep-bed activated carbon filter and HEPA particle filter to remove the widest range of toxins without clogging up.

Contact AllerAir for a personalized recommendation.

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