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Hookah Bar Workers at risk of Secondhand Smoke, Study Says

Update Date: Jan 26, 2016 10:31 AM EST
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People who work at hookah bars have a high risk of being exposed to secondhand smoke, a new study reported.

The researchers set out to examine how working at a hookah bar can affect one's health especially since "hookah [water pipe] use is often exempt from clean indoor-air laws that protect people from secondhand smoke," senior author Terry Gordon said. Gordon is a toxicologist and professor in the department of environmental medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center located in New York City.

The team noted that in New York City, there are about 140 hookah bars and lounges.

For this study, the researchers recruited 10 hookah bar employees and tested them after they were finished with their work shifts. The team found that the employees had inhaled large amounts of carbon monoxide and nicotine. The team also found evidence of inflammation that could be tied to lung disease in the employees.

In some of the workers, the effects of inhaling hookah air were similar to the effects seen in people who were heavy cigarette smokers.

The researchers wrote in their study, "These results demonstrate that hookah bars have elevated concentrations of indoor air pollutants that appear to cause adverse health effects in employees. These data indicate the need for further research and a marked need for better air quality monitoring and policies in such establishments to improve the indoor air quality for workers and patrons."

"Ours is the first study that links poor hookah bar air quality to damaging effects in workers, and the results recommend closer monitoring of this industry to protect the public," Gordon said reported by HealthDay via U.S. News and World Report.

The researchers added that oftentimes, young people think that hookah is a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes. However, more studies are finding evidence that hookah is not as safe as people might think.

"Our findings challenge the belief that secondhand exposure to hookah smoke is safe," Gordon said. "We hope that our paper leads to larger studies of indoor air quality and regulations that protect workers and patrons."

The study's findings were published in the journal, Tobacco Control.

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