Secondhand tobacco smoke exposure and pulmonary function: A cross-sectional study among non-smoking employees of bar and restaurants in Santiago, Chile

Javiera Parro, Paulina Aceituno, Andrea Droppelmann, Sthepanie Mesías, Claudio Muñoz, Nella Marchetti, Verónica Iglesias*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Introduction The workplace remains a significant source of secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure. This pollutant is known to be associated with respiratory and cardiovascular problems, but its effects on specific pulmonary function parameters remain largely unexplored. The objectives of this study were to measure SHS exposure among non-smoking employees of bar and restaurants in Santiago, Chile and to evaluate the effects of such exposure on pulmonary function. Methods Cross-sectional design. The study sample included non-smoking workers from 57 restaurants and bars in Santiago, Chile. The outcome variable was pulmonary function and the exposure variables were urine cotinine concentration, a biomarker for current SHS exposure, and years of SHS exposure in the workplace as proxy of chronic exposure. Personal and occupational variables were also recorded. Data analysis was performed using linear regression models adjusted by confounders. Results The median age of the workers was 35 years and the median employment duration at the analysed venues was 1 year. Workers in smoking facilities reported greater SHS exposure (36 hours per week) than workers in smoke-free locations (4 hours per week). Urine cotinine levels were inversely correlated with forced vital capacity, but the finding was not statistically significant (β=â 0.0002; 95% CI â 0.007 to 0.006). Years of exposure to SHS showed to be significantly associated with forced expiratory flow 25/75 (β=â 0.006; 95% CI â 0.010 to â 0.0004). Conclusion These findings suggest that cumulative exposure to SHS at work may contribute to deterioration of pulmonary function in non-smoking employees.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere017811
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
contributors JP, PA, AD, SM, CM, NM and VI: substantial contributions to the conception and design of the work on pulmonary function parameters, acquisition, analysis and interpretation of data and final approval of the version to be published; JP and VI : drafting the work; JP, PA and VI: revising it critically for important intellectual content; VI: agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved. Funding This study was supported by National Fund for Research and Development in Health FONIS, CONICYT—MINSAL, Research Grant # SA09I062 and by International Training and Research in Environmental and Occupational Health (ITREOH), Fogarty International Center, NIH Research Grant #D43TW005746-02 competing interests The authors have no conflict of interest to declare. ethics approval University of Chile School of Medicine's Ethics Committee. Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed. data sharing statement No additional data available. open Access This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: licenses/by-nc/4.0/ © Article author(s) (or their employer(s) unless otherwise stated in the text of the article) 2017. All rights reserved. No commercial use is permitted unless otherwise expressly granted.

Publisher Copyright:
© Article author(s) 2017.


  • chronic exposure
  • pulmonary function
  • secondhand smoke exposure
  • urine cotinine
  • workers


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