Thirdhand Smoke: Toxic and Deadly!


CINCINNATTI, Ohio (Ivanhoe Newswire) — We all know the facts — smoking kills. In fact, cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States causing 480 thousand deaths each year. Thirdhand smoke.

That adds up to 13 hundred deaths each and 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.

Would you let your child do this? Of course not! But if you smoke around your child, or even smoke when your child is not around, you could be harming their health.

Ashley Merianos, PhD, Tobacco Researchers at University of Cincinnati explains, “So, whereas secondhand smoke is inhaling smoke from a lit tobacco product, thirdhand smoke is inhaling, ingesting, or dermally absorbing the secondhand smoke pollutants.”

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

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

University of Cincinnati’s, Ashley Merianos, found that 50 percent of children living in homes with a smoker had NNK on their home services and 70 percent had NNK found in dust throughout their homes.

“We also found that 100 percent of children had nicotine detected on their surfaces and about 100 percent had nicotine detected in dust.” Explains Merianos

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

Merianos says, “We have found that thirdhand smoke can last in environments for up to years.”

Meaning your child could be exposed and you wouldn’t even know it.

The study also found children living in lower-income households had higher levels of NNK and nicotine found on home surfaces. Merianos wants parents and grandparents to be aware that not smoking inside the house is not enough and doesn’t fully protect children from the dangers of the toxic chemicals found in cigarettes.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Joe Drumm, Editor. Matt Goldschmidt, Videographer.




REPORT #3185

BACKGROUND: When tobacco smoke leaves residual nicotine and other chemicals around, it is referred to as thirdhand smoke. Thirdhand smoke residue can remain on indoor surfaces, furniture, and even skin for weeks, months, or years. Research shows there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke as it contains more than 250 chemicals. Smaller children have the most increased exposure to thirdhand smoke because of the possibility to put affected objects in their mouth and touch affected surfaces. Even pets can run into problems as they can lick their fur and possibly ingest toxins that have coated their fur with smoke residue. A few ways to prevent thirdhand smoke is to not allow smoking indoors, encourage smokers to quit, and implement smokefree policies.


RISKS FOR BABIES AND CHILDREN: Secondhand and thirdhand smoke are especially dangerous to babies and children. They are at a higher risk because they have smaller airways than grown-ups, and their airways are still developing. Their immune systems are also less mature and therefore not as strong as an adult to fight off infections. Babies and smaller children tend to crawl on the floor and put their hands in their mouth which increases the risk, as they can swallow or breathe in these harmful chemicals. These increased risks can accelerate health problems such as asthma, bronchitis, croup, ear infections, meningococcal disease, pneumonia, and even tonsillitis. Studies show that children who grow up in a smoking home double the chance that they will pick up smoking as an adult.            


NEW STUDY ON SMOKING AND CHEMOTHERAPY: Researchers from the University of Oklahoma led an investigation into secondhand smoke exposure and cancer treatment. The team exposed head and neck cancer cells to secondhand smoke for 48 hours. At the same time, the cells were treated with cisplatin, a chemotherapy drug commonly used to treat head and neck cancer. Results showed twice as much chemotherapy was needed to kill the cells than would have been necessary without exposure to secondhand smoke. “This was concerning to discover because not only was the effectiveness of the chemotherapy cut in half, but the cells that survived were able to divide and create huge colonies of cancer cells,” said Lurdes Queimado, MD, PhD, a professor of otolaryngology at the OU College of Medicine. They found that secondhand smoke alters the expression of several proteins involved in drug resistance, effectively restricting chemotherapy’s ability to do its job. This new study points to the ongoing public health consequences of both active smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.


* For More Information, Contact:

Tim Tedeschi, Public Information Officer

University of Cincinnati

Telephone: 513-556-5694

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