Rolling down the windows and having a smoke in your car won’t just make the seat covers stink--it may also affect your child in the backseat.

A recent study published in the online journal Tobacco Control and reported on reports that a 10-minute car ride with a smoker can increase a child’s exposure to harmful air pollutants by a whopping 30 percent.

The researchers made their conclusions based on 22 assessments of air quality inside a vehicle wherein three cigarettes have been smoked in the span of an hour. Pollutants were measured from the backseat at the average breathing height of a child, with both front windows down or partially down. Pollutants outside the vehicle were similarly analyzed, which resulted in a roster of respiratory ailment culprits such as particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and nicotine. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), which have been linked to wheezing, allergies, immunity imbalances, and IQ changes, were also present.

All assessments showed that the amount of pollutants inside the car of a smoker was three times as high as those outside.

If you regularly light a stick, the best way to protect your child from second-hand smoke is by kicking the habit, or at the very least, smoking away from your child. Ask other members of your family to do the same, and ban people from lighting cigarettes in the car. Although pollution is something that no one can completely escape, lessening your child’s exposure to it may have a positive impact to his or her health.

(Photo by Masha via Flickr Creative Commons)

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