Research shows dangers of thirdhand smoke, lingering in home after cigarettes are out

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Saturday, June 8, 2024
The dangers of thirdhand smoke: is your family at risk?
It's not just secondhand smoke that can harm non-smokers. Thirdhand smoke that lingers on carpets and furniture hours later can contain carcinogens.

We all know the facts on the dangers of smoking: It's is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, causing 480,000 deaths each year.

That adds up to 1,300 deaths every day.

And even if you don't smoke, secondhand smoke can cause harm to you if you live with a smoker.

Now there's new evidence that thirdhand smoke can be just as harmful.

You wouldn't let your child smoke, but if you smoke even when your child is not around, you could be harming their health.

Ashley Merianos, a researcher with the University of Cincinnati, explains the difference between second and thirdhand smoke:

"Whereas secondhand smoke is inhaling smoke from a lit tobacco product, thirdhand smoke is inhaling, ingesting, or dermally absorbing the secondhand smoke pollutants," Merianos said.

Thirdhand smoke can be found on furniture, décor, walls, even floors. It can cause cancer and respiratory problems.

"Thirdhand smoke pollutants can include well-known nicotine as well as cancer-causing chemicals such as tobacco-specific nitrosamines," Merianos said. "And so in our study, we looked at one called NNK, which is the most potent known human carcinogen found in tobacco smoke."

The Cincinnati researchers found that 70% of children living in homes with a smoker had NNK found in dust throughout their homes.

"We also found that 100% of children had nicotine detected on their surfaces and about 100% had nicotine detected in dust," Merianos stated.

These toxins were even found in homes with smoking bans and when people were not allowed to smoke around children.

The American Lung Association says the risk of exposure from thirdhand smoke is real, and even smoking in front of an open window doesn't prevent thirdhand exposure.

Merianos and her team of researchers found that thirdhand smoke could last in environments for years.

And they say they want parents and grandparents to be aware that even if kids or grandchildren aren't home, smoking inside the house could still potentially expose them to chemicals found in tobacco smoke.