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Exposure to Tobacco, E-Cigarette, and Marijuana in Mutlin-Unit Housing

Institution: San Diego State University Research Foundation
Investigator(s): Georg Matt, Ph.D.
Award Cycle: 2018 (Cycle 27) Grant #: 27IR-0019 Award: $1,095,903
Subject Area: Environmental Exposure/Toxicology
Award Type: High Impact Research Project Award

Initial Award Abstract

Over the past 25 years, tobacco use in California has significantly declined while awareness of the harmful effects of tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure have increased. With broad public support, a range of tobacco control policies and smoking restrictions have been put in place at state and local levels to protect nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke. In contrast, use of electronic cigarettes and marijuana are on the rise and considered by many as harmless recreational activities and healthier alternatives to tobacco use. Similar to the intrusion of tobacco smoke into neighboring housing units, scientific studies indicate that electronic cigarette vapor and marijuana smoke may also travel to neighboring units and expose their residents. Because of the legalization of recreational marijuana use and increased popularity of electronic cigarettes, there is a particular concern that electronic cigarette vapor and marijuana smoke will become common sources of pollutants in multiunit housing (MUH). The proposed study will investigate how residents of MUH are affected by their neighbors’ tobacco smoke, electronic cigarette vapor, or marijuana (TEM) smoke. We will collaborate with community organizations to identify MUH residents who believe they are exposed to TEM from their neighbors (Exposure Group, EG). Each participant will nominate an acquaintance in a comparable home setting who does not experience secondhand TEM exposure (Non-Exposure Group, NEG). We will visit the home of each participant to collect air, surface, and dust samples as well as a urine sample. Samples will be analyzed using highly sensitive analytic laboratory methods to determine specific markers of TEM compounds in air, dust, and on surfaces and in participants’ urine. Results from EG and NEG participants will be compared to determine if (1) Homes of EG participants are polluted with TEM from their neighbors; and (2) EG participants were exposed to TEM toxicants. (3) We will use novel methods to improve the detection of pollutants from electronic cigarettes. (4) We will work with a group of participants for whom TEM exposure was confirmed to develop strategies to eliminate their TEM exposure. If successful, this study will provide new insights into the pollution and involuntary exposure caused by TEM use in MUH. This study will yield evidence to establish new markers for electronic cigarette pollution to distinguish it from tobacco and marijuana pollution. Finally, this study will provide new evidence that MUH residents could use measures of TEM pollution and exposure to create TEM-free home environments.