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PHO Grand Rounds: Air quality and exposures in water pipe cafés: A new urban hazard
Tuesday, June 24, 2014 12:00 pm to 01:00 pm
Venue: 480 University Ave, Suite 300 Toronto, ON M5G 1V2 Boardroom 350
Environmental and Occupational Health
City: Toronto
Format: In Person; Webinar

Note: This is an open invitation, and may be forwarded to interested parties.

Increasing use of water pipe (hookah) in indoor cafés has raised concerns about the health of both patrons and wait staff exposed. A Toronto study of ambient air in 12 water pipe cafés confirmed the need to eliminate this exposure. Levels of CO in water pipe cafés met or exceeded Occupational Health and Safety limits for industry. Particulate levels averaged 15 times the hazardous level and included high levels of benzene, which causes leukemia and other cancers. Unfortunately, most users think it’s relatively safe. Contrary to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, most venues were serving tobacco water pipe. However, other research shows that herbal water pipe produces the same levels of harmful pollutants as tobacco water pipe. Legislation is urgently needed to eliminate this serious workplace and recreational hazard.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies or views of Public Health Ontario, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by Public Health Ontario.

Presenter: Dr. Roberta Ferrence

Dr. Roberta Ferrence is senior scientific advisor, Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, University of Toronto; adjunct professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health; and affiliate scientist with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. She has training in epidemiology and medical sociology.

Her research focuses on tobacco smoke exposure, including the economic and environmental impact of smoke-free bylaws, indoor and outdoor air quality studies including water pipe, and third-hand smoke. She has published more than 150 peer-reviewed papers and has co-authored three books, including Nicotine and Public Health. 

Public Health Ontario Grand Rounds are approved for continuing medical education from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons. For more information, contact




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