Thirdhand Smoke: New Evidence Shows It Can Be Just as Harmful As Smoking

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States causing 480,000 deaths each year. That adds up to 1,300 deaths every day. 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.

Saturday, June 15th 2024, 7:44 am

By: News On 6, LeAnne Taylor, CBS News


We all know the facts, smoking kills.

In fact, cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States causing 480,000 deaths each year. That adds up to 1,300 deaths each and every day. 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.

“So, whereas secondhand smoke is inhaling smoke from a lit tobacco product, thirdhand smoke is inhaling, ingesting, or dermally absorbing the secondhand smoke pollutants,” said University of Cincinnati’s Ashley Merianos.

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

“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(Nicotine-derived nitrosamine ketone), which is the most potent known human carcinogen found in tobacco smoke,” said Merianos

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,” said Merianos.

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

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

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.

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