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Kim Winnegge, Published January 22 2009

Study: Indoor air cleaner

Reports pollution down 98 percent since July in Fargo-Moorhead

Local anti-smoking advocates are breathing a sigh of relief over a study released Wednesday.

There has been a 98 percent decline in indoor air pollution in Fargo-Moorhead locations since July, the study reported.

SAFE Coalition member Chelsey Mattern said the results were “surprising.”

BreatheND, a local anti-smoking advocate, helped push for the stricter citywide smoking bans passed by Fargo and West Fargo voters in June.

The bans prohibit smoking in indoor workplaces, including bars, truck stops and rental halls.

The North Dakota cities’ bans were passed in the wake of Minnesota’s statewide ban that took effect in 2007, which includes Moorhead.

A total of 16 bars and restaurants were sampled before and after the bans took effect.

Air pollution levels dropped to levels found in outdoor levels, Mattern said.

Testing was done with a personal aerosol monitor, which records the levels of suspended particles in the air.

Researchers spent a minimum of 30 minutes in each randomly selected location.

Vicki Voldal Rosenau, Barnes County, N.D., tobacco prevention coordinator, said she is happy with the study, which was conducted by Roswell Park Cancer Center.

“These results are inspiring us … to do more education on this matter,” Rosenau said.

Indoor air quality was assessed in 10 randomly selected Fargo bars before and after the smoke-free bans. In Moorhead, six similar establishments were tested.

The Fargo locations that were tested before Fargo’s stricter smoking ban took effect showed that the level of air pollution was about 45 times higher than the locations in smoke-free Moorhead.

“All politics aside, this is just about health,” Rosenau said. “We still have work to do.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Kim Winnegge at (701) 241-5524