What is Thirdhand Smoke
AKA environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residual including nicotine left by tobacco smoke. The lingering residues will remain in the room or cloth even long after smoking has stopped. The residues will react with other indoor pollutants and form chemical reactions. The substances will then cling on to clothes, furniture, drapes, walls, carpets, and other surfaces.
Thirdhand smoke residues will continue to builds up on the surface particularly on porous materials. It is hazardous when exposed, touch, ingest or inhaled even on a small concentration level. Infants and young children are at a bigger risk due to their tendency to place their exposed hand and object into their mouth.
Case Study 1
In 1991, A study shows nicotine can be found in the dust if a person smoke at home. The study also concluded that if a person smoking frequency co-relate with the concentration level of nicotine in the dust. This could create a scenario where dust inhalation could also be a form of “involuntary smoking.”
Case Study 2: San Diego State University
In 2004, San Diego State University’s Department conducted a study on the homes of ex/ smokers. The research focused on the tobacco smoke residues found in a home and the health effects it leads to. To their shocking, they manage to find residue contaminants even 6 months after a smoker has stopped smoking. This causes the continuous exposure of nicotine and NNK as the residues have settled in the house.
The research concluded that dust and surfaces in a house can be contaminated if there is some form of smoking present. Compared with an indoor smoker, ETS is 3-8 times higher than a smoker that only smokes outside. However, outdoor smoker ETS is 5-7 times higher than a household that does not have any smoker.
Case Study 3
A study in 2010 concluded that thirdhand smoke can help creates carcinogens through a chemical reaction. As nicotine is highly reactive with some indoor pollutants mainly nitrous acid, it can create carcinogens compounds when both are mixed together. A person may be at risk of inhaling to the carcinogens.
Case Study 4: Berkeley Lab
A study concluded by Berkeley Lab that thirdhand smoke can cause damage to a DNA strand. This is with the condition if the exposure is prolonged rather than single direct exposure. As a result, the breakdown of DNA will lead to a gene mutation called Genotoxicity. Genotoxicity refers to the chemical agents that damage the genetic cell and causes a mutation, which may lead to cancer.
Case Study 5: Science Direct
Lead by the same Berkeley professors group. In their study, they found that ozone is reactive to 50 different types of compounds found in cigarette smoke. The contaminants will eventually drop as thirdhand smoke leading to multiple harmful exposures. The ultrafine particles can be easily inhaled to our body and travel to our bone marrow, hear, and lymph.
Can An Air Purifier Get Rid of Thirdhand Smoke?
An air purifier can only remove firsthand or secondhand smoke. Here’s why. A dedicated smoke air purifier with carbon filter is designed to absorb and trap smoke particles that are lingering in the air. Firsthand and secondhand smoke fits the criteria because of the pollutants in the atmosphere. Thirdhand smoke on the other hand, is the toxic residues that have settled down on an object on the ground. It cannot be removed by an air cleaner unless it is disturbed back in the air.
How Do You Deal With Thirdhand Smoke?
First and foremost, stop smoking indoor even if you have an air purifier. This is the best way to completely to stop more residual contamination from stacking up. As thirdhand smoke cannot be removed by airing out the room, opening windows, fans or air ventilation system is all off the list. So the only way to completely clear out thirdhand smoke is to:
- Wash and launder all upholstery, clothing, bedding, drape, and linens with detergent.
- Mop on all hard surface floor with household cleaning products.
- Gently scrub and clean furniture like counters, tiles, cabinet, and even wall.
- Get professionally cleaner to clean the big stuff like sofa, carpet, and rugs.
- Replace ceiling board, wallpaper or carpet floor that is contaminated with smoke.
- Dispose of smaller items like toys, frames that are beyond salvation.
- Do not use an ozone generator. It causes more health problems than actually reducing the residues.
Let's go back to the first recorded history of smoking diseases report. On January 11, 1964, the Surgeon General's report was released on the topic " Smoking and Health". It is a detail 7,000 articles that concluded that cigarette smoking is the main cause of chronic bronchitis. It is also the cause of lung cancer and laryngeal cancer in men. It is also a probable cause of lung cancer in women. The term “thirdhand smoke” was first announced in 2006 and only became significant in 2009, after researchers at Harvard Medical School published it in their pediatrics paper. Jump back to current times, smoking still causes 7 million preventable death each year. If the pattern remains, the global figure will move up to 8 million death each year. This includes indirect long-term exposure to thirdhand smoke.