What's Third-Hand Smoke? Should You Care? Yes! Especially if You Have Children

March 14 2010

I recall coming home from a restaurant, back in the days when smoking was allowed (even if limited to a bar or other restricted area), and having to hang my wool clothing outdoors for several hours or overnight to air out the odor of cigarette smoke.

According to an article by Lynn Yarris, tobacco smoke residue "reacts with the common indoor air pollutant nitrous acid to produce dangerous carcinogens." The nicotine vapor is adsorbed onto surfaces such as carpets, drapes, furniture (and clothing, skin or even hair) and forms carcinogenic tobacco-specific nitrosamines or TSNAs. So if someone smokes outdoors and then enters a room, those residues "follow a smoker back inside and get spread everywhere. The biggest risk is to young children. Dermal uptake of the nicotine through a child’s skin is likely to occur when the smoker returns and if nitrous acid is in the air, which it usually is, then TSNAs will be formed,” according to a Berkeley Lab research team member.

Category: Need to Know
Filed under: Smoking