Wednesday, January 22, 2020
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School elevators can bring out stereotypical behavior

Many two- or three-story school buildings have elevators, especially for freight or to accommodate students with disabilities, but there are schools in the country that have regular elevators that students use during passing periods.

Those tend to experience peaks and valleys in terms of traffic, with the most crowded elevators being experienced first thing in the morning, after each lunch period, and right after the final bell, reports Madison Somra in The Warrior Wire, the student newspaper at North Atlanta High School in Georgia.

It can be next to impossible to avoid making uncomfortable eye contact, especially during those more crowded elevator rides. Ms Somra writes that there are several different types of elevator users at North Atlanta:

  • the annoying
  • the lazy
  • the quiet
  • the friendly

And “let’s be honest,” she writes:

Everyone is lazy about the stairs at some point. What isn’t understandable are the people who, for example, get on at the third floor then get off at the fourth floor. Can we all agree that if someone is physically capable of walking up one floor, they should walk up the one floor? “It’s pretty funny when everyone talks trash about these lazy types as soon as that person leaves, though,” the paper quoted one sophomore as saying. “It’s a weird little bonding exercise. I like it.”

There’s much to be said about elevators in public buildings, though, some of which pertains to the safety of elevator riders, not just to bonding exercises by students.

Ann Klassen is a professor in Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health. She led a recent study that monitored nicotine levels in Philadelphia Housing Authority properties both before and after the city started enforcing a smoke-free policy. She and her team found that although the number of places where nicotine was detected remained unchanged, the levels of detected nicotine were reduced by almost half after the policy was enacted.

“This is encouraging,” she was quoted as saying in a news release. “These data show a reduction in exposure to airborne nicotine, which is an indicator of reduced exposure to secondhand smoke, and, therefore, healthier air in multi-unit housing.”

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development is requiring all public housing in the US to implement smoke-free policies by 2018. The Philadelphia research is a timely look at what could be accomplished, because Philadelphia banned smoking everywhere within the housing unit, including elevators, where smoking had already been banned, and inside individual residences, which was new in the city back in 2015.

Their study is set to be published in Tobacco Regulatory Science, and in addition to establishing partnerships with the Philadelphia Housing Authority and Philadelphia Department of Health, they also worked with the Second Hand Smoke Exposure Assessment Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

The study suggests that community-wide smoke-free policies are more effective in reducing secondhand smoke exposures for all residents than policies that permit smoking inside individual residences. This is very important in public housing communities, which include a variety of residents, including children, elderly, and chronically ill residents, who are especially vulnerable to respiratory diseases, like asthma.

“Cessation and education services are an ongoing need in all communities, as successful cessation takes time and support,” Ms Klassen explained. “In addition, environmental education—how secondhand smoke travels and how it remains over time—is a great interest for residents. We found that both smokers and non-smokers are truly interested in learning about how to protect the health of their families and communities.”

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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