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Eye On Boise

Wed., Oct. 7, 2009, 10:40 a.m.

Like a forest fire…

I asked Mark Travers, a research scientist at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, if the institute has done studies in other states like its examination of bar air quality in Idaho, and whether the results were comparable. The answer: Yes, in 35 other states. "The results in Idaho are very similar to what we've seen in other places," he said. "The point is to try to bring to people's attention just how bad the air quality is in an indoor place where you allow smoking. We spend a lot of time, effort and money monitoring and regulating that outdoor air ... but we spend 90 percent of our time indoors, where the result can be much worse. It's a result of being in an enclosed place and in close proximity to the source of the pollution, in this case, the cigarettes."

The institute's study found that air in Boise-area bars that permit smoking is 36 times worse that the area's smog, that the air quality in those bars is in the "hazardous" range, and that workers in smoking-permitted bars are exposed to four times the EPA's annual limit for fine-particulate pollution exposure. "The only time you would see outdoor air pollution that would be comparable to what we found in the Idaho bars would be during a forest fire," Travers said.

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Eye On Boise

Short takes and breaking news from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.