Wetenschapper neemt meeroken bewijs op de korrel

Roger A. Jenkins, wetenschapper bij het Oak Ridge National Laboratory, heeft zich in zijn loopbaan al vele malen bezig gehouden met het onderzoek naar meeroken.

Tijdens een lezing voor het ORNL vatte hij deze week zijn ervaringen samen.

“There are several science-related hurdles to overcome in educating the public about ETS, Jenkins said. The first is getting the public to understand the difference between personal beliefs and science.”

The ‘truth’ about tobacco smoke

Just how harmful is environmental tobacco smoke?

Not as harmful as the Environmental Protection Agency or those anti-secondhand smoke commercials would have one believe, according to Roger A. Jenkins, Ph.D., consultant to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Chemical Sciences division.

Jenkins presented “Human Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke: Is What You See What You Get?” at ORNL this week.

“Some people wish I didn’t have the findings I have,” Jenkins said. “Others say, ‘Gee, if this is true, why does the EPA continue to talk about this?’ [The research] steps on people’s toes, and that’s exactly what I want it to do.”

Environmental tobacco smoke is a highly diluted mixture of sidestream (70 to 90 percent) and exhaled mainstream (10 to 30 percent) of tobacco smoke.

“‘Secondhand’ smoke is probably misleading, since most ETS is derived from smoke which is emitted by the smoldering firecone of a cigarette,” Jenkins said.

According to Jenkins, the typical smoker inhales 480 milligrams of smoke a day and 32 milligrams of nicotine per day. In a home where smoking is unrestricted, the typical non-smoker will inhale the equivalent of .45 milligrams of smoke particles and .028 milligrams of nicotine.

There are several science-related hurdles to overcome in educating the public about ETS, Jenkins said. The first is getting the public to understand the difference between personal beliefs and science.

“In a society where there are still serious debates about evolution, this can be a real challenge,” he said.

The second is avoiding the “means justifying the end syndrome,” which Jenkins says involves the distortion of science in the name of preventing youth from smoking.

The third major hurdle is demanding “public policy types” provide perspective for the facts they declare.

“Sure, there are 43 carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) in ETS, but there are also probably about 40 carcinogens in diesel exhaust and wood smoke,” Jenkins said.

Indoor air pollution is also caused by many things other than non-tobacco sources, including cleaning, cooking, consumer products like Raid and wood burning.

“As (physician) Paracelsus said in the early 1500’s, ‘the poison is in the dose,'” Jenkins said. “We still continue to eat lettuce and take showers despite their carcinogens. Life is risky business.”

Jenkins is simply remaining true to his profession by bringing forth this politically incorrect information, he says.

“When you start tinkering with science because you want to achieve some political aim, you are no longer a scientist.”

Jenkins retired in September from his position as leader of the Environmental Chemistry and Mass Spectrometry Group in the Chemical Sciences Division at ORNL. He has authored or co-authored more than 45 open literature publications in the area of field analytical chemistry and tobacco smoke characterization and human exposure. He is the lead author of “The Chemistry of Environmental Tobacco Smoke: Composition and Measurement,” Second Edition.

Jenkins has also acted as an expert witness in several high-profile litigations involving environmental and mainstream tobacco smoke composition and exposure.

Bron: The OakRidger

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