Thirdhand Smoke Adds to Smoking Risks

Damage From Thirdhand Smoke Adds to Smoking Risks

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. This site was deactivated on July 1, 2013.


As a lifelong anti-smoking crusader, I don’t need more evidence that smoking is bad. People who smoke cigarettes are not only killing themselves, their secondhand smoke harms those who live with them, including their pets and house plants.

Now research on smoking shows thirdhand smoke is hurting us all.

What Is Thirdhand Smoke and Why Does It Increase Smoking Risks?

Scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, CA define thirdhand smoke as the noxious residue that clings to virtually all surfaces after the secondhand smoke from a cigarette has cleared the air. The residual nicotine reacts with common indoor air pollutants, such as ozone and nitrous acid, and forms carcinogenic compounds. Researcher Lara Grundel said these are “among the most potent carcinogens there are.”

These dangerous compounds remain on indoor surfaces, such as paint, upholstery and carpeting, and are difficult, if not impossible, to remove by standard cleaning methods. We are exposed to them when we inhale them on dust particles, make contact with them through our skin or clothing, and ingest them off of eating utensils.

And now for the bad news.

The latest study of the risks from thirdhand smoke found the effect of these hazardous compounds is cumulative, or as Grundel said, “the materials could be getting more toxic with time.”

What Happens if Exposed to Thirdhand Smoke?

This study found exposure to thirdhand smoke causes significant genetic damage in human cells, especially to children. The researchers concluded chronic exposure was worse than acute, which means the occasional visit to home where people smoke is not as threatening as commuting in a car every day in which someone has.

A paper describing this research was published in the July 2013 issue of the journal Mutagenesis. The title of the article leaves no room for doubt, “Thirdhand Smoke Causes DNA Damage in Human Cells.”

Does anyone need any further justification to ban smoking in all public places?


Posted in Aging, Chronic Diseases, HEALTH GOES STRONG, Healthy Lifestyle and tagged , , , .

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