DANGERS OF THIRD HAND SMOKE
Blowing smoke

About Third Hand Smoke:

Thirdhand smoke is residual nicotine and other chemicals left on indoor surfaces by tobacco smoke. People are exposed to these chemicals by touching contaminated surfaces or breathing in the off-gassing from these surfaces.

Thirdhand smoke consists of the residue from cigarettes, pot, and other products left behind after smoking. It builds up on surfaces and furnishings. These toxic brews can then reemit back into the air and recombine to form harmful compounds that remain at high levels long after the actual smoking has stopped.

According to the National Institute of Health:
  1. Thirdhand smoke consists of residual smoke pollutants
  2. The pollutants remain on surfaces and in dust after tobacco has been smoked
  3. They are re-emitted back into the gas phase
  4. They react with oxidants and other compounds in the environment to yield secondary pollutants.
According to the researchers at the University of California:

Even after the second-hand smoke has cleared, cigarettes leave some of their toxic residue behind. Discover how University of California researchers at California’s Thirdhand Smoke Consortium are investigating the problem.

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Thirdhand Smoke Research:

  • Thirdhand smoke consists of the residue from cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products that is left behind after smoking and builds up on surfaces and furnishings. Tobacco smoke is composed of numerous types of gasses and particulate matter, including carcinogens and heavy metals, like arsenic, lead, and cyanide. Sticky, highly toxic particulates, like nicotine, can cling to walls and ceilings. Gases can be absorbed into carpets, draperies, and other upholsteries.
  • The National Institute of Health found that these toxic brews can then reemit back into the air and recombine to form harmful compounds that remain at high levels long after smoking has stopped occurring. Thirdhand smoke consists of residual smoke pollutants that 1) remain on surfaces and in dust after tobacco has been smoked, 2) are re-emitted back into the gas phase, or 3) react with oxidants and other compounds in the environment to yield secondary pollutants.
  • Study reveals dangers of nicotine in Thirdhand smoke click to read
    “We know that these residual levels of nicotine may build up over time after several smoking cycles, and we know that through the process of aging, third-hand smoke can become more toxic over time,” says Destaillats. “Our work highlights the importance of third-hand smoke reactions at indoor interfaces, particularly the production of nitrosamines with potential health impacts.”
  • A study published in February 2010 found that Thirdhand smoke causes the formation of carcinogens. The nicotine in tobacco smoke reacts with nitrous acid – a common component of indoor air – to form the hazardous carcinogens. Nicotine remains on surfaces for days and weeks, so the carcinogens continue to be created over time, which are then inhaled, absorbed or ingested. click to read  Children of smokers are especially at risk of Thirdhand smoke exposure and contamination because tobacco residue is noticeably present in dust throughout places where smoking has occurred. The homes, hair, clothes, and cars of smokers can have significant levels of Thirdhand smoke contamination. Young children are particularly vulnerable, because they can ingest tobacco residue by putting their hands in their mouths after touching contaminated surfaces. 
  • Researchers at San Diego State University’s Department of Psychology have found that homes of former smokers remained polluted with Thirdhand smoke for up to 6 months after the residents quit smoking. The Thirdhand smoke settled in house dust and on surfaces and then continually exposed residents to nicotine and NNK (a tobacco-specific carcinogen) even after they had quit smoking. Parents, landlords, business owners and others need to be aware of the health risks of exposure to Thirdhand smoke and recognize that eliminating smoking is the only way to protect against tobacco’s smoke contamination. click to read
  • Does the Smoke Ever Really Clear? Thirdhand Smoke Exposure Raises New Concerns click to read
  • What is Thirdhand smoke, and why is it a concern? click to read
  • Formation of carcinogens indoors by surface-mediated reactions of nicotine with nitrous acid, leading to potential Thirdhand smoke hazards click to read
  • Major ‘third-hand smoke’ compound causes DNA damage — and potentially cancer click to read
  • Thirdhand Smoke May Damage Your DNA  click to read
  • A 2010 study showed THS also remains after smokers move out of their homes, even after being vacant for two months and being prepared for new residents, sometimes with new carpeting and paint. Meanwhile, other lines of research have confirmed some smoke compounds adsorb onto surfaces and then desorb back into the air over time, providing a source of tobacco toxicants that lingers long after people finish smoking.  click to read
  • Thirdhand smoke uptake to aerosol particles in the indoor environment click to read
  • Thirdhand smoke (THS) is the persistent residue generated from aged secondhand smoke (SHS) that adheres to indoor dust and surfaces and reemits into the air, which is of concern as a public health hazard. Click to read.