It’s been known for decades that secondhand smoke contains harmful chemicals that can be detrimental to your health. Unfortunately, some workers, such as those who work inside casinos and gaming facilities, have to deal with a certain level of secondhand smoke and its dangers while on the job. If secondhand smoke exposure is an occupational hazard for you, here’s what you need to know.
Effects of Second-Hand Smoke in the Workplace
According to the American Nonsmokers’ Right Foundation (ANRF), casino workers are at higher risk for developing lung disease and heart disease because of their exposure to secondhand smoke while working . Many casinos in Las Vegas and all over the world still allow smoking in their facilities, putting dealers, restaurant and bar workers, cocktail servers, security workers and other casino staff at risk.
Even in non-smoking sections of the casino and with increased ventilation efforts, casino workers are still exposed to unsafe levels of secondhand smoke, which contains nicotine, carcinogens, benzene, naphthalene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and other toxins. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that these toxins have immediate effects on the heart and blood vessels . In addition, prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke can result in chronic lung disease, lung cancer and an increased risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, even in non-smokers.
In a gaming facility that allows cigarette and cigar smoking, your body can build up toxins quite quickly when breathing in secondhand smoke. To give you an idea of how harmful it can be, the Cleveland Clinic has determined what can happen to the body over a short period of time when exposed to secondhand smoke :
After 5 minutes – The aorta stiffens as much as it would if you had smoked a cigarette
After 20-30 minutes – Secondhand smoke causes excess blood clotting and increased buildup of fat deposits in blood vessels. This puts you at a higher risk of a heart attack and stroke.
After 2 hours – Chances of an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, increase and can result in a fatal heart attack or another dangerous cardiac episode.
Harmful Signs and Symptoms of Secondhand Smoke Exposure
Because secondhand smoke is full of toxins and chemicals, many casino workers experience long-term complications and side effects from working in that environment. Here are some signs and symptoms that may develop from being exposed to secondhand smoke at work:
Eye irritation, including itchiness, puffiness and redness
Nasal irritation, such as sneezing and sinus inflammation
Chronic sinus and respiratory infections that take a while to go away
Frequent flare-ups of asthmatic symptoms
Persistent dry or wet coughs, wheezing or itchiness in the throat
Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, even when not exposed to secondhand smoke
Developing smoking-related issues (even if you don’t smoke), including asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and COPD
If you work in a casino and have experienced any of these symptoms, it could be a sign that secondhand smoke is affecting your health and wellbeing. Make an appointment with your doctor. A health professional can recommend the appropriate tests and screenings to assess your health and possibly catch issues like lung disease or cardiovascular disease early enough for successful treatments.
Who Is at the Greatest Risk for Developing Complications Due to Secondhand Smoke?
Although secondhand smoke exposure is not good for anybody, there are some groups who are considered more at risk of being harmed. If you fall into one of these categories, you should be very aware of secondhand smoke and always do your best to avoid it. These higher-risk groups include:
Those with existing respiratory issues, including asthma
People with inflammatory diseases
People with autoimmune disorders
People with high blood pressure
Infants and children
These particular groups of people are more vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke, so working in a casino may not be an ideal line of work. Because secondhand smoke can affect individuals differently, it’s important to know the state of your health right now to be able to understand your risk factors.
Proactive Approach to Health With Low-Dose Lung Scans
If you work in a casino and are concerned about your lung health due to secondhand smoke inhalation, there’s a way to check the status of your lungs that is quick, painless and accurate. With a low-dose lung CT scan, you can get detailed images that provide healthcare professionals with an in-depth look at the health of your lungs. A CT scan is sensitive enough to detect the very early stages of small tumors and growths, which allows for earlier treatment. The sooner you catch these things, the more likely you are to have successful treatment and will be able to live a long, healthy life.
There is no medication or sedation necessary for a lung CT scan. The patient just needs to lie flat and still and the CT machine rotates around the body to capture images of the lungs and surrounding tissue. The entire process only takes minutes, and there is no need for invasive procedures to get results. A trained radiologist will then read the scans and inform you of any abnormalities and how you should proceed. In any case, it’s always a good idea to stay on top of any issues and to take a more proactive approach to your health.
Affordable Lung Scans at Preventative Diagnostic Center
The goal of the Preventative Diagnostic Center in Las Vegas is to provide accessible and affordable CT scans to patients wanting to take control of their health. By being involved and knowing where they stand, patients are able to make more informed decisions and increase survival rates when lung disease is caught early. Using our SOMATOM go.All low-dose CT scanner, there is very minimal risk to our patients, so they can feel comfortable and confident during the screening.
To learn more about our comprehensive lung CT scans, other body scans, or to schedule your scan, contact our team today. We’re happy to walk you through the process and answer all your questions.
Dr. John J. Pierce is the Medical Director at Preventative Diagnostic Center. He is Board-certified in Emergency Medicine as well as Board-certified by the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine. He received his medical training from Western University of Health Sciences, College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, in Pomona California. He also has a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In addition to his regular practice, Dr. Pierce serves as a Tactical Physician with the Las Vegas SWAT team.