AIR, ACCORDING TO OSHA
Though repetition has little to do with "the truth," we're repeatedly
told that there's "no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke."
OSHA begs to differ.
OSHA has established PELs (Permissible Exposure Levels) for all the
measurable chemicals, including the 40 alleged carcinogens, in secondhand
smoke. PELs are levels of exposure for an 8-hour workday from which,
according to OSHA, no harm will result.
Of course the idea of "thousands of chemicals" can itself sound spooky.
Perhaps it would help to note that coffee contains over 1000 chemicals,
19 of which are known to be rat carcinogens.
-"Rodent Carcinogens: Setting Priorities" Gold Et Al.,
Science, 258: 261-65 (1992)
There. Feel better?
As for secondhand smoke in the air, OSHA has stated outright that:
"Field studies of environmental
tobacco smoke indicate that under normal conditions, the components in
tobacco smoke are diluted below existing Permissible Exposure Levels (PELS.)
as referenced in the Air Contaminant Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000)...It would
be very rare to find a workplace with so much smoking that any individual
PEL would be exceeded."
-Letter From Greg Watchman, Acting Ass't Sec'y, OSHA,
To Leroy J Pletten, PHD, July 8, 1997
Indeed it would.
Independent health researchers have done the chemistry and the math
to prove how very very rare that would be.
As you're about to see in a moment.
In 1999, comments were solicited by the government from an independent
Public and Health Policy Research group, Littlewood & Fennel of Austin,
Tx, on the subject of secondhand smoke.
Using EPA figures on the emissions per cigarette of everything
measurable in secondhand smoke, they compared them to OSHA's PELs.
The following excerpt and chart are directly from their report and their
CALCULATING THE NON-EXISTENT RISKS OF ETS
"We have taken the substances
for which measurements have actually been obtained--very few, of course,
because it's difficult to even find these chemicals in diffuse and diluted
"We posit a sealed, unventilated
enclosure that is 20 feet square with a 9 foot ceiling clearance.
"Taking the figures for
ETS yields per cigarette directly from the EPA, we calculated the number
of cigarettes that would be required to reach the lowest published "danger"
threshold for each of these substances. The results are actually
quite amusing. In fact, it is difficult to imagine a situation where
these threshold limits could be realized.
"Our chart (Table 1) illustrates
each of these substances, but let me report some notable examples.
"For Benzo[a]pyrene, 222,000
cigarettes would be required to reach the lowest published "danger" threshold.
"For Acetone, 118,000
cigarettes would be required.
"Toluene would require
50,000 packs of simultaneously smoldering cigarettes.
"At the lower end of the
scale-- in the case of Acetaldehyde or Hydrazine, more than 14,000 smokers
would need to light up simultaneously in our little room to reach the threshold
at which they might begin to pose a danger.
"For Hydroquinone, "only"
1250 cigarettes are required. Perhaps we could post a notice limiting this
20-foot square room to 300 rather tightly-packed people smoking no more
than 62 packs per hour?
"Of course the moment
we introduce real world factors to the room -- a door, an open window or
two, or a healthy level of mechanical air exchange (remember, the room
we've been talking about is sealed) achieving these levels becomes even
"It becomes increasingly
clear to us that ETS is a political, rather than scientific, scapegoat."
Chart (Table 1)
Toxicology" Littlewood & Fennel
Coming at OSHA from quite a different angle is litigator (and how!)
John Banzhaf, founder and president of Action
on Smoking and Health (ASH).
Banzhaf is on record as wanting to remove healthy children from intact
homes if one of their family smokes. He also favors national smoking
bans both indoors and out throughout America, and has litigation kits for
sale on how to get your landlord to evict your smoking neighbors.
Banzhaf originally wanted OSHA to ban smoking in all American workplaces.
It's not even that OSHA wasn't happy to play along; it's just that--darn
it -- they couldn't find the real-world science to make it credible.
So Banzhaf sued them. Suing federal agencies to get them to do
what you want is, alas, a new trick in the political deck of cards. But
OSHA, at least apparently, hung tough.
In response to Banzhaf's law suit they said the best they could do would
be to set some official standards for permissible levels of smoking in
Scaring Banzhaf, and Glantz and the rest of them to death.
Permissible levels? No, no. That would mean that OSHA, officially,
said that smoking was permitted. That in fact, there were levels (hard
to exceed, as we hope we've already shown) that were generally safe.
This so frightened Banzhaf that he dropped the case. Here are
excerpts from his press release:
"ASH has agreed to dismiss
its lawsuit against OSHA...to avoid serious harm to the non-smokers rights
movement from adverse action OSHA had threatened to take if forced by the
suit to do it....developing some hypothetical [ASH's characterization]
measurement of smoke pollution that might be a better remedy than prohibiting
smoking....[T]his could seriously hurt efforts to pass non-smokers' rights
legislation at the state and local level...
Another major threat was
that, if the agency were forced by ASH's suit to promulgate a rule regulating
workplace smoking, [it] would be likely to pass a weak one.... This weak
rule in turn could preempt future and possibly even existing non-smokers
rights laws-- a risk no one was willing to take.
As a result of ASH's dismissal
of the suit, OSHA will now withdraw its rule-making proceedings but will
do so without using any of the damaging [to Anti activists] language they
had threatened to include."
Nixes OSHA Suit To Prevent Harm To Movement
Looking on the bright side, Banzhaf concludes:
"We might now be even
more successful in persuading states and localities to ban smoking on their
own, once they no longer have OSHA rule-making to hide behind."
Once again, the Anti-Smoking Movement reveals that it's true motive
is basically Prohibition (stopping smokers from smoking; making them "social
outcasts") --not "safe air."
And the attitude seems to be, as
Stanton Glantz says, if the science doesn't "help" you, don't do the