What is thirdhand smoke?
BY: Nicole Gregory
We’ve all heard about secondhand smoke -- cancer-causing smoke that’s exhaled by a smoker or emitted from the burning end of a cigarette. Now, experts are focusing in on thirdhand smoke -- the chemical residue that clings to clothing, furniture, curtains and carpets long after the air has cleared. Thirdhand smoke is what you smell in a room where someone smoked hours or even days ago, and it’s what you smell on a smoker’s hair and clothes long after they’ve put out the cigarette.
What’s the big deal? Research shows that thirdhand smoke contains a deadly combo of chemicals, including hydrogen cyanide, butane, lead, toluene and arsenic, among others, according to Philip J. Landrigan, M.D., who heads the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. What’s more, thirdhand smoke is especially dangerous to young children, who crawl on the floor -- where smoke settles -- and put things in their mouth.
The surgeon general maintains that “the only way to fully protect yourself and your loved ones from the dangers of secondhand smoke is through 100 percent smoke-free environments.” Given recent findings about thirdhand smoke, this warning has new urgency.
Nicole Gregory, contributor to Live Right Live Well, is a Los Angeles-based writer who has written for numerous publications, including Weight Watchers magazine, Vegetarian Times, Viv, Fit Pregnancy and many others.