Smoking at Dulles Airport causes spike in poor air quality, CDC says

Photo: Haprog/Flickr

Washington Dulles International Airport is one of the busiest airfields in America for both domestic and international travelers, the FAA says. According to a new Centers for Disease Control report, it's also one of the smokiest.

The CDC report says that in America's five busiest airports that allow smoking in designated areas inside terminals, air pollution in areas directly outside the smoking zones register air pollution levels five times higher than in airports that are completely smoke free.

Along with Dulles, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Denver International Airport and Salt Lake City International Airport were included in the CDC study. Restaurants, bars and designated smoking areas were all tested for air quality, which showed that pollution levels in those areas of the airport were 23 times worse than in smoke-free airports.

"The findings...further confirm that ventilated smoking rooms and designated smoking areas are not effective," Dr. Tim McAfee, the director of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health, said.

Another co-author of the study, the CDC's Dr. Brian King, says that cleaning the air or providing ventilation does not effectively eliminate a non-smoker's exposure to secondhand smoke.

In 2011, the FAA says that nearly 23.1 million passengers flew into and out of Dulles, making it the nation's 22rd busiest airport.

Both Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport prohibit smoking in all indoor areas.