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Mind Readings: What Smoking Tells Us About Air Quality

Key points:

  • Cigarette smoking is allowed in many indoor spaces in Serbia, which results in poor air quality.
  • Just a few smokers in an enclosed space can make the air quality unbearable for everyone.
  • Poor air quality is a problem not just for COVID, but for other respiratory diseases as well.
  • Masks are an effective way to reduce exposure to airborne pathogens, but only if they are used properly.
  • Good ventilation is key to reducing the spread of disease in indoor spaces.
Mind Readings: What Smoking Tells Us About Air Quality

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Machine-Generated Transcript

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In this episode, let’s talk about cigarette smoke.

I was in Serbia, Belgrade, Serbia not too long ago.

And one of the things that was really very different there culturally, than in the United States, where I’m based is smoking is allowed pretty much everywhere, inside hotels, inside restaurants, you name it.

You can smoke there.

I was at dinner one night.

And it was a nice little traditional Serbian restaurants, they had all sorts of really neat local foods.

And there were probably about 2530 people in the restaurant not including the stuff.

In the next room over which there was no, there were no doors or walls was just sort of partitioned by decor.

There was one person on the far side of the room, smoking, and one person about two tables over from me smoking.

And everything smelled like smoke.

Everything smelled like cigarette smoke, my breathing, I could see it in the air and the light and the air, I had to open a window, just to get a little bit of fresh air.

And even that didn’t help all that much.

When I got out.

My clothing stank like cigarette smoke, and that was in there for a grand total of maybe 30 minutes.

It was just so pervasive that just a couple of people were enough to to ruin the dining experience.

I ate the rest of my meals in my hotel room for that trip.

So what why do we care about this? This is the perfect illustration about how important air quality is how important air flow is.

We are in an era now.

And not just COVID.

But also RSV, influenza, all sorts of things, and probably new things that we don’t know about yet.

That our respiratory, respiratory diseases, respiratory diseases spread by air by us breathing them out, sneezing them out, coughing them out.

And what we forget is that, because for a good percentage of us in America, especially forget is like smoking is not allowed in most places now.

So we forget how easy it is for things to spread by air, right? You don’t need to have every single person in a restaurant smoking to have smoke filled room, right? You only need a couple of people.

And everything smells bad, right? If you go to any kind of event, you don’t need everybody wearing that really awful.

colonially need one person who decides that cologne is more of a marinade.

Everybody around that person.

And like 100 feet around, the person knows Yep, somebody overdid it, somebody somebody really, really went all out.

That’s how disease spreads to.

You can’t see it doesn’t smell like smoke or bad cologne or something like that.

But that’s how it spreads and it spreads fast.

It spreads evenly relatively evenly through an airspace.

And it’s very difficult to control without really good ventilation.

Just opening a window was not enough to get the smoke out of the restaurant enough to you know, to make it palatable to eat they’re just opening a window is not enough to substantially reduce the amount of an airborne pathogen.

And again, it’s not just COVID mold, mildew, spores, wildfire smoke, cold dust, you name it, if you’re not supposed to be breathing it in and it spreads by air.

Enclosed indoor spaces are literally the worst.

Right? They’re a terrible place to be without some kind of protection.

And that’s why these kinds of crazy looking masks you know, you look like you look like a Batman villain or something.

But they work.

They work so well at blocking these things floating around in the air.

I’m not suggesting you go hang out places where there’s a lot of smoke, where people are smoking indoors.

It’s it’s not I mean, you can if you want to, but it is a really good example maybe in your own home if you have a little bit of like incense or perfume or even like an air freshener, just spray it and see how fast you can detect it.

Right? It is.

It is faster and it is easier to spread than you think.

And take that knowledge and apply it to The disease or the pathogen or the hostile environment of your choice, and you will realize that these devices while some people may critique them, when used properly are really effective.

Now, one other thing that I love a lot love it, but I see people commenting is like, masks don’t work.

Well.

Yeah.

Mask masks don’t work if you use them wrong.

Right? If you are wearing a mask, like this, this this is not a mask.

This is this is like a bow tie right? Or wearing a mask like this, with your nose completely uncovered.

Again, think about that cigarette smoke, right? was wearing a mask like this on your chin stop you from inhaling cigarette smoke.

Now.

One of the reasons why people can make the valid claim that masks don’t work as just a whole bunch of people who don’t use them properly.

It’s like putting a condom on your elbow.

How did that person get pregnant? Wow, no one condoms don’t work? Well, yeah, you put it on your elbow.

A person who clips the seatbelt on in the seat next to them and go slide to the windshield.

Seatbelts don’t work well.

They work if you actually put them on yourself properly.

But when you clip the empty seat close to stop the thing from beeping at you, but you’re not wearing your own.

Yeah, it doesn’t work in that instance.

So the takeaway here is twofold.

One, stuff spreads through air really fast.

Test it yourself, try it yourself, see how fast some incense or perfume spreads within a home a business etc.

and get a sense for how good ventilation is by then walking out of that place, get out of the airspace and walk back in five minutes later, 10 minutes later, 15 minutes later and see if you can still smell it.

And if you can, you know, the air quality in there is not as good as it could be if you do not want to carry around like a co2 monitor and to properly worn, properly fitted, good breathing filters are highly effective at reducing your exposure to stuff that you don’t want to be breathing in whether it’s a virus, bacteria, smoke, mildew, you name it.

If you think you’re going into an environment that has a hostile environment, put something on it’s like you know you’re going into a place where rocks fall out of the off the ceiling like a cave.

put a helmet on, just just use some common sense.

Anyway, that’s it for today.

Thanks for tuning in.

We’ll talk to you soon.

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