Thirdhand Smoke: Harmful residue

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We all know the hazards of smoking. The person actually smoking is at risk for many health problems. Second hand smoke can lead to emphysema and lung cancer. But have you heard of 3rd hand smoke (THS)?? This is the less visible type which consists of all the particles and chemicals that land on basically every surface in the smoking area. It can be on the person’s clothes, in their hair, on the floor, and on the furniture.

There are 11 types of chemicals that when left on surfaces, are considered carcinogens. They’re is all bad because these are cancer causing. “Off-gasing” is the terms for when the chemicals have landed on the surface but then release back into the air as gas. It seems toxins are released everywhere from cigarettes. These toxins can then interact with other chemicals in the environment. Toxins then are either inhaled, ingested (they land on food), or absorbed through the skin. Overtime, the toxins continue to accumulate and become more and more harmful. Let’s say a person smokes in their car, obviously these chemicals just keep piling up.

Children are the biggest victims of THS. Children sit and play on the floor. They put their fingers in their mouths and touch surfaces.

It is important to be adamant about not smoking in your home or vehicle to avoid THS. Studies have shown in a house left unoccupied for 2 months, these chemicals were still present. Acidic cleaners, especially vinegar, can help with some of the cleaning.

So what is the best solution to avoid third hand smoke?? Well, quitting smoking. Nicotine is highly addictive and studies have shown it is nearly as addictive as heroin.

Smokers enjoy the “kick” from inhaling nicotine. The head change from nicotine entering the bloodstream, releases adrenaline and creates a euphoric feeling with dopamine.

Smoking doesn’t just affect the smoker. The cigarette residue remains on clothing, drapes, furniture, just to name a few surfaces. Opening the windows or turning on a fan don’t eliminate the problem. You don’t want to serve a nice dinner on a thirdhand smoke residue kitchen table. The best solution is to maintain a smoke free lifestyle. Even stepping outside to smoke is not the right answer. It is polite to share, but not when it comes to smoking and it’s plethora of harmful side effects.

https://academic.oup.com/mutage/article/28/4/381/2459888

https://academic.oup.com/her/article/28/5/923/617816

https://www.aappublications.org/content/30/11/8.2

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Megan Johnson McCullough owns a fitness studio in Oceanside CA called Every BODY's Fit. She has an M.A. in Physical Education & Health Science, is a current candidate for her Doctorate in Health & Human Performance, and she's an NASM Master Trainer & Instructor. She's also a professional natural bodybuilder, fitness model, Wellness Coach, and AFAA Group Exercise Instructor.