Devices and Tests to Detect Smoking
When combined with other evidence, there are devices and kits that may help provide a minimum standard of proof that smoking is occurring or drifting into an adjoining space. The use of monitors to enforce a no-smoking policy or to verify specific allegations of a violation must be done in a manner that is free from unlawful discrimination that may violate fair-housing laws. Placing monitors uniformly, randomly or in response to specific complaints from neighboring residents may raise less concern than if a monitor is placed in a unit belonging to a member of a protected class and in no other unit. Housing providers should first try some less intrusive options and consult an attorney before using devices or tests.
Disclaimer: this document is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice or a guarantee that any of these devices are foolproof methods to detect secondhand-smoke exposure and/or meet the standard needed for proof in a court of law that smoking has occurred in a particular area.
Please share your experience with using any of the devices listed here with Colorado GASP regarding the ease of use and ordering, customer service and technical support, how well they worked, and if they accomplished the goal.
Passive Nicotine Monitors
These devices are the most effective in determining if smoking is occurring or if secondhand smoke is present.
Hammond Monitor: This monitor has been placed in the units of smokers and nonsmokers in studies done in Boston and Minnesota and analyzed on a weekly basis. It is recommended that the device be left in one location for three to four weeks. It can be placed inside a unit or outside a unit, but it will be most accurate if placed close to where the problem exists. The cost to obtain the monitor and return it for analysis is around $100. Contact: S. Katharine Hammond at https://vcresearch.berkeley.edu/faculty/s-katharine-hammond or call 510-643-0289.
FreshAir Sensor: This recently updated monitor provides immediate alerts by e-mail whenever tobacco smoke is detected. It has been tested in motels and airplanes as an enforcement tool to provide proof of smoking in those locations. It requires a Wi-Fi connection and an Android device to program it. The device is not designed to test secondhand-smoke exposure coming into a unit. A marijuana-testing component is now available. Contact the manufacturer for special pilot-program prices. Visit: http://freshairsensor.com
Repace Monitor: This device can detect secondhand smoke and needs to be in place for a month. A report is provided indicating nicotine levels as well as recommendations along with the analysis. The reports have been used in some court cases. The cost to obtain the monitor and return it with the analysis is $600. Visit: http://www.repace.com/
The very small-size particles (referred to as “PM2.5”) detected by these devices are not unique to secondhand smoke. A person cooking in an apartment can create as much smoke as cigarettes can, and it is not possible to distinguish between the two with a simple particle monitor. These devices pick up other sources of PM2.5 that are similar to secondhand smoke and therefore there is some question about whether using them would hold up in court for enforcement purposes. However, they have been used by both researchers and housing providers.
Speck Monitor: The Speck (developed by Carnegie Mellon Labs) is a particle monitor that detects fine particles that are between 0.5 microns and 3.0 microns in size. It is Wi-Fi enabled for data collection. Two different units are available for $149 or $199. Visit: http://store.specksensor.com/
Dylos Monitor: This monitor uses a laser particle counter designed expressly to meet the needs of the home or office environment. It provides reports, counts individual particles, reports an immediate response to changing environments, and provides up to 30 days of stored history data. Housing providers have used them, and there are different models. Some models can be connected to a computer and provide a date stamp. The cost to purchase the device ranges from $200 to $400. Visit: www.dylosproducts.com
TSI SidePak: This monitor is a more sophisticated monitor that requires some training to use, but it but also can pick up other particles. It can be purchased for more than $5,000. Visit: http://www.tsi.com/sidepak-personal-aerosol-monitor-am510/
Other Devices and Tests
Homeaircheck Kit: This air-sample collector checks for the presence of tobacco smoke by collecting air samples for certain chemical compounds in secondhand smoke. The collector can be placed in a hallway or in a unit. Air sampling must occur between two to six hours, and must be submitted within 14 days. This monitor might be more effective for a resident trying to prove smoke is coming into their unit. There is a charge of $93.85 for the rental and report. Visit: http://homeaircheck.com/
Saliva Cotinine Tests: Cotinine is a byproduct of nicotine that is ingested directly or through exposure to secondhand smoke. Unless the person exposed is bedridden or isolated, they can pick up cotinine from breathing secondhand smoke on the street or elsewhere. Therefore saliva tests might not be a great tool for either residents or housing providers wanting to prove exposure to secondhand smoke. Saliva cotinine test kits can be purchased online for as little as $5. Visit: http://www.cotininetest.com/
Tobacco and Marijuana Smoke Residue Tests: These kits can be used to test a property for nicotine or marijuana residues left behind by previous occupants. They run $95 each. Visit: https://www.emsltestkits.com/
May be reprinted or copied with appropriate attribution to the Group to Alleviate Smoking Pollution (GASP of Colorado) © April 2017