If you or a family member is a smoker, it is highly advisable to consider quitting, for the sake of your own health and the health of others, especially if there are children in the house.
You may already be aware of the negative effects of firsthand and secondhand smoke, but have you heard of thirdhand smoke?
Cigarette Residue Becomes Thirdhand Smoke
According to the American Heart Association, smoking is one of the biggest, yet preventable, causes of death and unfortunately it can impact non-smokers too in the form of secondhand and thirdhand smoke.
While firsthand smoke is the smoke directly inhaled by the smoker, secondhand smoke is what a non-smoker inhales by just being near someone who is smoking. This can have severe consequences on the non-smoker’s health and studies show that it can increase a non-smoker’s risk of developing heart diseases by 25 percent.
Cigarette smoke contains nearly 7,000 chemicals including arsenic and tar that get released into the air. The nicotine in the cigarettes reacts with nitrous oxide to form certain cancer-causing substances called tobacco-specific nitrosamines. These substances and other residues from the smoke tend to stay on surfaces around the home, including the walls, furniture, toys and blinds to become thirdhand smoke.
While you can easily come into contact with these substances by touching the surfaces, people don’t realize that they can be ingested by breathing too. These toxins become more dangerous when combined with household toxins like cleaning solutions.
How Does Thirdhand Smoke Impact Health?
Though thirdhand smoke is a recent entrant to the dangerous side effects of smoking, many have been studying its impact on the health of smokers and non-smokers alike. According to them, young children are the most vulnerable to thirdhand smoke because they have more access to all the possible surfaces where this residue accumulates.
Children exposed to thirdhand smoke can develop conditions like asthma and pneumonia and may be more prone to infections. One study also noted that thirdhand smoke might be a major factor in sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS.
While adults may be less prone to touching this residue, they are at risk too. Constant exposure to thirdhand smoke at work or at home might increase the risk of different types of cancers impacting the lungs, mouth, kidneys and throat. In pregnant women, the constant exposure to this dangerous residue can impact the health of the baby by increasing the baby’s risk of developing respiratory ailments.
How to stay away from thirdhand smoke?
Living in a smoke-free home may reduce your risk of exposure to thirdhand smoke considerably. But in case there is a smoker at home or a visitor insists on smoking indoors, you could give your whole house a thorough cleaning to remove any possible thirdhand smoke residue.
We are all aware of how smoking can impact the health of a smoker, but we also need to understand that we may be putting ourselves in danger by simply sitting next to a smoker or touching surfaces that have been exposed to thirdhand smoke.
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Weatherspoon, D. (2017, December 18). Retrieved October 3, 2018, from https://www.healthline.com/health/thirdhand-smoke
Quitting Smoking. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Alberta/Pages/Second-Hand-and-Third-Hand-Tobacco-Smoke.aspx