When The Platters released this song in the fifties the lyrics were more about the hearts desire and flames from the heart causing smoke to get in your eyes. Today, these words are used most often when describing smoke from a cigarette getting into your eyes.
While more and more bars, restaurants, public buildings, hospitals, office buildings, schools, etc, etc, etc, no longer allow smoking of any kind, there are still thousands of places where people are subjected to cigarette and cigar smoke. Some people ( and I am included in this group) can even detect cigarette smoke when standing outside 15 to 20 feet away from a smoker.
With all of the airborne contaminants that we are subjected to, cigarette smoke ranks as one of the most difficult to deal with. It is comprised of about 100 different chemicals including nicotine, the major component of cigarettes, and one of the most addictive chemicals used legally. Which is why almost 40 million Americans still smoke.
There are a number of challenges when dealing with cigarette smoke but two of them are the most difficult. First, the small smoke particles that come off the cigarette are easily aspirated into the lungs of anyone within 5 to 10 feet of the smoker. The smoke you see coming from the cigarette is really fairly large, 20 to 100 microns in size. However, the majority of the smoke coming off the cigarette is very small and invisible to the naked eye, it is sub-micron in size (less than 1 micron) and is easily trapped in the lungs.
The second most difficult component of cigarette smoke is a substance called “cotinine” which is a component of nicotine. This material is transported by the cigarette smoke and is somewhat tacky and will adhere to any surface. This chemical has a strong odor lifetime; meaning it will continue to release an odor for days after it is released from the cigarette and attaches to a surface. It is this chemical that sticks to your clothes and carries the odor from the bar or restaurant back to your home. It really does stink.
One of the real challenges in dealing with cigarette smoke and all of its components is the removal or reduction of this smoke from the air. Ventilation and air dilution were used years ago as one way of removing some of the smoke from occupied areas, but the cost of heating and cooling all that air made the process prohibitive. Using air filters in the HVAC system removed some of the larger airborne particles but did nothing for the smoke odor.
Pure Air Systems has been installing its HEPA based air filtration systems in bars and restaurants to remove smoke and odors since 1985. Although today there are few bars that allow smoking, there are still many that do along with many of the private clubs. Using HEPA filters is necessary to remove the sub-micron particles and to remove the odor component the PAS systems include carbon to adsorb the cotinine other odor causing chemicals.
It is interesting to note, that even with the use of the PAS commercial grade HEPA and Carbon based air filtration systems, it is very difficult to maintain a clean, healthy environment in a smoking area when you have a large number of the customers smoking. And, with the amount of smoke that is generated by a large group of smokers the PAS filter systems require the HEPA filter to be changed once every 4 to 6 months ( normal life is 3 years) and the carbon to be replaced 4 to 6 times a year or more often ( normal life 3 to 6 months).
It is for these reasons, along with the obvious health issues, that entire communities, cities, towns and municipalities are banning smoking from any indoor public facility; even from parks, outdoor stadiums and other recreational facilities.
For more information on this topic and to learn more about the HEPA and Carbon based product line from Pure Air Systems, please go to our website at; www.pureairsystems.com.