Measurement of passive smoking in the workplace: A comparison of questionnaire and salivary cotinine assessments

Stephen McDonald, A. Woodward, N. Badcock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Passive smoking at work is now regarded as an important occupational health issue, but little is known about levels of exposure to smoke in the workplace, or how to measure them. This study compares questionnaire assessments of passive smoke exposure with salivary cotinine levels in 123 workers at six different worksites. Salivary cotinine concentrations were determined by gas liquid chromatography with a limit of detection of 5.7 nmol/l (1ng/ml). Cotinine was not detected in 11 samples (all from non-smokers), and seven samples were unable to be analysed. Concentrations were higher in smokers than non-smokers. There was no consistent association between workers' assessments of the smokiness of their workplace, and salivary cotinine concentrations. Exposure to smoke at home and work tended to go together. The available biochemical measures including salivary cotinine levels are not at present suitable for use as stand-alone measures of exposure to tobacco smoke.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-221
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Occupational Health and Safety - Australia and New Zealand
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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