Nada Kassem, associate director of the Center for Behavioral Epidemiology and Community Health at San Diego State University, said that in contrast to what has been believed hookah tobacco smoking was not a safe substitute to smoking other forms of tobacco, CBS News reported.
Researchers analyzed levels of S-phenylmercapturic acid (SPMA), a metabolite (byproduct) of benzene, in the urine of 105 hookah smokers and 103 nonsmokers exposed to smoke from the water pipes.
After an event in a hookah lounge, SPMA levels were four times higher than normal in hookah smokers and 2.6 times higher than normal among people who had attended but hadn't puffed on a hookah.
After a hookah-smoking event in a private home, SPMA levels were two times higher among hookah smokers, but normal among nonsmokers.
Kassem believes that because there is no safe level of exposure to benzene, their results call for interventions to reduce or prevent hookah tobacco use, regulatory actions to limit hookah-related exposure to toxicants including benzene, and include hookah smoking in clean indoor air legislation.