OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

May 7, 1986

Mr. Donald Cameron Frye
10243-074 Box P.M.B.
Atlanta, Georgia 30315

Dear Mr. Frye:

This is in response to your inquiry concerning the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations that apply to smoking in dormitories.

OSHA is charged with protecting the safety and health of workers and does not regulate the ventilation of residences. Currently, OSHA has no regulations that apply to smoking, however, OSHA does have a standard which limits employee exposure to carbon monoxide one of the products from the combustion of tobacco. The current OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) for carbon monoxide is 50 parts of carbon monoxide per million parts of air averaged over an 8-hour work day. I have enclosed the "NIOSH/OSHA Occupational Health Guideline for Carbon Monoxide" for your use. This guideline provided information on the health effects associated with carbon monoxide exposure.

Also, you may want to write to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concerning this matter. EPA is responsible for protecting the health of the general public and may have guidelines that apply to smoking. The address is:

401 M Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20640

I have also enclosed an article entitled "The Problem of Passive Smoking" by James L. Replace of EPA for your use and a bibliography of references on tobacco smoke compiled by the National Capital Area Lung Associations.

Concerning the occupational safety and health manual that you mentioned in your letter, I suspect that this manual was developed by your installation. I suggest that you ask you dormitory manager for a copy.

I hope this information is useful to you.


Richard D. Edsell
Office of Science and Technology Assessment


Dept. of Labor
200 Constitution Ave. NW
Room N3718
Washington DC 20210

Health Standards Programs // Carcinogen Identification and Classification

Dear Sir,

The Manager of the Dormitory in which I now reside recently sent a note to me stating:

"The Dormitory living quarters meets current health and safety standards as set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Manual. Ventilation in these areas has been found to be adequate for smokers and non-smokers."

What are these standards? How can a room appr. 15' x 9' with three smokers be guaranteed not to affect a non-smoker in the same room?

Can you please send my a copy of the manual mentioned in the quote? Can you identify the possible carcinogens or toxic substances in such a situation?

Thank you for your help!


Donald Cameron Frye
10243-074 Box P.M.B.
Atlanta GA 30315