A recent study broke all believes that the secondhand exposure to hookah smoke is safe. The researchers found that the consequences could be as serious as a heavy tobacco smoker.

The study consisted in the analysis of the workers at hookah bars and lounges after their shifts in New York City. Ten workers were analyzed and the team found that they had elevated levels of toxins and identifiable markers of inflammation that are linked to airway and heart diseases, according to the study.

Photo: Daniel Hulsbos/Ozone Hooka Lounge

The hookah bars workers are inhaling dangerous amounts of smoke. According to the team, the average level of exhaled carbon monoxide rose significantly after their shifts, as the readings from two of the 10 workers exceeded 90 parts per million –which are similar to those measures seen in heavy tobacco smokers.

Indoor air pollutant concentrations varied, the paper added, as they were directly proportional to the number of people smoking and water pipes used. Many of the hookah bars did not have open windows or doors to ventilate the smoke, said the study authors.

“Hookah use is often exempt from clean indoor air laws that protect people from secondhand smoke,” says toxicologist and senior study author Terry Gordon, PhD, a professor in the Department of Environmental Medicine at NYU Langone and at the university’s CGPH.

Professor Gordon added that their study is the first that links “poor hookah bar air quality to damaging effects in workers”, and the results recommend closer monitoring of this industry to protect the public.

Even though tobacco-based shisha –which can go with the hookah– is banned in New York City venues, the study identified traces of nicotine in four bars.

“Secondhand hookah smoke: an occupational hazard for hookah bar employees” is the name of the study and was lead by researchers at New York University’s College of Public Health (CGPH) and Langone Medical Center.

Source: New York University