How Harmful is Thirdhand Smoke? (Part 2: Smoking)
Thirdhand smoke is a topic that is not often spoken about as rare as it may be. It is fast becoming a major issue. Many are ignorant of the fact that smoking indoors leaves a toxic substance that causes twice as much harm as real smoke.
How does Thirdhand smoke affect me?
So how does it affect you if you don’t smoke? You can get exposed to thirdhand smoke, getting into an elevator, with someone who just smoked outside. Or if you are in a hotel room where people have been smoking. Even if it is a while back.
You may think that since you can’t smell smoke anymore it wouldn’t affect you. That the smoke would have diffused into the atmosphere. That is correct to a certain extent, but researchers now know otherwise. Thirdhand smoke (residual tobacco smoke), has a way of forming a bond with other indoor pollutants. Like ozone and nitrous acid and this combination creates new and very harmful compounds. Thirdhand smoke can also be found on furniture surfaces in the form of dust. In hair, skin, clothing, and fingernails of smokers.
The effect of thirdhand smoke can last for years. Some of the most affected people are those who work in cleaning. Vacuum, change sheets, and empty ashtrays are exposed to higher doses of thirdhand smoke. Because, unlike smokers and nonsmokers, the workers are exposed to it daily.
We are yet to know exactly how much these exposures really affect the health of humans. In animal studies, researchers found that thirdhand smoke damages the liver and lungs. Slows down the healing of wounds and contributes to hyperactivity in mice. It also showed how thirdhand smoke caused insulin resistance, a precursor to Type 2 diabetes in them. (Research published in March in the online open-access journal PLOS ONE)
Thirdhand smoke contributes in causing cancer
but it’s not only cancer researchers are worried about. Thirdhand smoke could also be responsible for health problems like asthma attacks and allergic reactions. One of the compounds that are created is a tobacco-specific nitrosamine. Is known as NNA, which damages DNA and that is what possibly causes cancer.
It is known that babies, toddlers, and children are most vulnerable to the toxic effects of tobacco. Because they are at the risk of being exposed to thirdhand smoke without even knowing. Let’s say, a mother who doesn’t smoke in front of her kids. Smokes outside the house then comes inside and carries the baby. Without knowing she is exposing the baby to thirdhand smoke. The new compounds are very hard to clean up, they are carcinogenic and they have a long life of their own.
Thirdhand smoke doesn’t just affect humans but animals as well. One new study shows that nearly 30 percent of pet owners live with at least one smoke. A number far too high, given the consequences of exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS). This level of exposure caused allergies and even nasal and lung cancer in dogs and lymphoma in cats.
If you happen to be a smoker
Not only are your pets breathing smoke-filled air. Lying directly on the carpet, furniture, your lap, or picking up anything clinging to their fur. After which they groom themselves, ingesting whatever toxic particles their fur has picked up.
To read part one How Secondhand smoke is killing you.
In most households, cats and dogs can’t get away from the polluted air. Unless they are fortunate enough to have a “doggie door” that lets them out. Most animals are “trapped” and are victims of their owners’ bad habits. Opening a window is not enough.
Experts have a few suggestions for ridding an indoor environment of thirdhand smoke. A thorough cleanup with detergent could help a bit and sometimes even repainting can go a long way. One of the most popular ways to deal with thirdhand smoke according to researchers is to clean up the ventilation system and change basic furniture and floor coverings.
The truth is, that the only way to annihilate the risks of thirdhand smoke and other types of smoke is to stop smoking completely. That way, you will be doing much good to yourself and others around you.
By creating a healthier and cleaner lifestyle you reduce your, your kids, your pets, and other people’s risk of diseases such as cancer, asthma, and possibly diabetes 2.