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Secondhand smoke levels outside designated smoking areas in airports are five times higher than levels in airports that are smoke free, according to a new government report. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says these high levels endanger the health of travelers and airport employees.

The findings come from a study of airports in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, Denver and Salt Lake City, HealthDay reports. About 15 percent of all U.S. air travel took place at these five airports last year.

CDC researchers found air pollution levels inside designated smoking areas were 23 times higher, compared with levels in smoke-free airports. Designated smoking areas in airports can include ventilated smoking rooms, as well as restaurants and bars.

The study results “further confirm that ventilated smoking rooms and designated smoking areas are not effective,” Dr. Tim McAfee, Director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, said in a news release. “Prohibiting smoking in all indoor areas is the only effective way to fully eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke.”

Report co-author Brian King noted, “Research shows that separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air and ventilating buildings cannot fully eliminate secondhand smoke exposure. People who spend time in, pass by, clean or work near these rooms are at risk of exposure to secondhand smoke.”

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