We are all aware of the detrimental effects that smoking tobacco has on our lungs, heart, skin and many other bodily functions. We’ve also heard about the similar effects from secondhand smoke, which is inhaling someone else’s smoke. Now there is research showing that thirdhand smoke may also be a concern to our health.
What is thirdhand smoke? Thirdhand smoke is the residual smoke contents (pollutants and nicotine) that are left after someone smokes in a particular area. The residue can be trapped in carpets, furniture, cars, dust and even the walls. Often, there is a leftover smell from the smoke, but even if there isn’t a smell it doesn’t mean there aren’t pollutants. Small objects that contain the pollutants can be a great danger for children who put the items in their mouth. If we come into contact with the residue, our bodies can be at risk for tobacco-induced health problems.
The best way to prevent thirdhand smoke is not to smoke in an enclosed area and to avoid rooms where people smoke or have smoked. The smoke can’t simply be aired out of the room; it needs to be cleaned to completely get rid of the pollutants.
While the number of people who smoke has been declining since 2005, there are still 37.8 million people in America who continue to smoke. It is important that we understand the effects of cigarette smoke so we can take care of our health and the people around us.
Written by: Amaris Teter, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern. Learn more about Wellness Workdays and our wellness program offerings by downloading our brochure.
1. Mayo Clinic
2. Federal University of Health Sciences of Porto Alegre
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention