Date of Conferral





Public Health


David O. Anderson


Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is a serious public health threat. Residual ETS in vehicles unknowingly exposes future occupants to environmental tobacco smoke. Reducing or removing exposure to ETS has been proven to reduce long-term health complications. This quasi-experimental study investigated 5 cleaning methods and their effect on air particulate matter2.5 (PM2.5) along with the correlation between air nicotine levels and PM2.5 levels. Study variables included cleaning methods as the independent variable, and changes in air nicotine and PM2.5 levels as the dependent variables. This study is framed within primary prevention and risk reduction based on the harm reduction theory. The harm reduction theory professes that when a hazard cannot be completely removed, methods to reduce the social and personal costs associated with the hazard should be developed. Fifty vehicles were placed in 5 groups: car wash vacuumed, shop vac vacuumed, air change, hand held vacuumed, and Hepa filtration air cleaned. Nicotine and PM2.5 levels were measured before and after cleaning. A Wilcoxon ranked test analysis of the data showed all methods of cleaning studied had a statistically significant decrease in both air nicotine (Z = -6.154, p < .001) and PM2.5 levels (Z = -5.934, p < .001). Kruskall-Wallis analysis showed no statistical significance between cleaning methods. Correlation analysis determined no correlation between nicotine and PM2.5 (r value = <.3). Results of this study provides public health program professionals with information linking cleaning methods to reduction of exposure to ETS. Positive social change comes when programs are developed to training and education people to reduce their exposure, resulting in an increase in health and a decrease in medical costs.