In the ongoing campaign against smoking, the typical approach is to discourage individuals from smoking in one of two ways.
The first option involves detailing how the habit affects the smoker’s body directly and the ways smoking may seriously harm or kill you.
The second push to quit smoking generally involves passive smoking or second-hand smoke exposure and how dangerous it is to others. The fear of second-hand smoke is what largely led to smoking being banned from many indoor locations across the United States.
Now a new concern is garnering increasing exposure: third-hand smoke.
Unlike second-hand smoke which is often inhaled involuntarily, third-hand exposure is created when the smoke clings to walls and furniture, coating them with a substance that is believed to be highly toxic. Those most at risk of third hand smoke exposure are often very young children.
Researchers find that certain chemicals in cigarette smoke linger in a room long after the last cigarette has been put out. These substances are said to react with indoor pollutants and create brand new and harmful compounds.
Noxious residue or NNA is one residue created by this reaction. NNA is thought to coat all surfaces in the area. For smoking parents or relatives with young children around them, this means their toys are very likely covered with this residue.
As toddlers and infants are very prone towards putting things into their mouths, there is concern this may mean NNA-coated toys and other objects. This means their own hands could be a risk factor due to the skin’s exposure to NNA-coated floors, walls, and other surfaces.
Dr. Bo Hang of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that the substance sticks to human DNA. This has the potential to lead to the development of cancerous tumors.
Even though smoking has been pushed out of many public places, not much can be done to protect toddlers from third-hand exposure that typically occurs in the homes of smokers.
According to Hang, third smoke exposure is especially difficult to eliminate, but not impossible. Furniture would need to be replaced, carpets removed, and walls repainted. Vacuuming, washing clothes and bedding, and keeping curtains clean can also help.
Hang hopes he and his team of researchers can eventually detect which persons have been exposed to third-hand smoke.
First hand smoke second hand smoke Now we got third hand smoke waiting for the forth hand smoke to appear probly years later
— Sdot (@jr_sdot) March 20, 2014
FFS how long before we have complaints about fourth-hand smoke? http://t.co/7x8EBtM6d3
— Pub Curmudgeon (@oldmudgie) March 16, 2014
Image via Wikimedia Commons