Is third-hand smoke as bad as smoking?

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Is third-hand smoke as bad as smoking?

Have you ever been accosted by the stale scent of cigarette smoke when there is not a smoker in sight? Welcome to the world of third-hand smoke.

We all know that smoking is extremely bad for your health and second-hand smoke can also be harmful in many ways, so here’s something completely new: researchers suggest that third-hand smoke is deadly as well.

What is third-hand smoke?

Third-hand smoke is the residue that lingers on surfaces and in dust particles months or even years after tobacco has been smoked. Cigarette smoke seeps into everything—clothing, furniture, car upholstery and rugs.

Smoke accumulates on surfaces, reacts with the air, and changes into carcinogenic chemicals. Researchers exposed mice to these carcinogens, and the results were alarming. Within one month of exposure to third-hand smoke, the researchers began detecting harmful effects on the mice including: cell damage to the liver, cell damage to the brain, increased cortisol levels, weakened immune system, and increased insulin resistance.

Traditional cleaning methods are not effective at removing the toxic residue. The toxins that make up cigarette residue have a different reaction to cleaning products, which can make it hard to eradicate pollutants.

Children and pets are at greater risk

Babies crawl on the floor and often put things in their mouths. This means they are at greater risk. Not only are their developing brains particularly susceptible to toxins, babies and children are closer to contaminated surfaces such as carpet and tend to ingest twice the amount of dust that adults do. Studies have shown a link between exposure to tobacco toxins and sudden infant death syndrome.

Pets, like children, spend a lot of time on or close to the floor where smoke residue can concentrate in house dust, carpets, and rugs. The residue on the animal’s fur could be ingested when they groom themselves.

Is third-hand smoke as bad as smoking?

Based on the evidence, we can agree that third-hand smoke contributes significant harm but it’s still too early to quantify the risk and researchers have not proven that third- hand smoke is as bad as smoking.

But there’s no need to wait for further evidence; we know it’s bad. The safest thing to do for your children, other family members, pets, and guests is to have a zero tolerance policy for smoking in your home and in your vehicle.