Third-Hand Smoke, New Cigarette Hazard
We've known the damage of first-hand smoke for years. And then there was the great second-hand smoke scare of the 90s. Now, in 2009 doctors and scientists are here to bring to your attention the dangers of third-hand smoke. It looks as though we are running out of hands.
Third-hand smoke is not actually smoke at all, but the residue that cigarette smoke leaves behind; on your clothes, hair, furniture and carpets. Cigarette smoke contains numerous chemicals that don't just float happily towards the heavens when you open the window or close the door. These chemicals eventually settle into the fibers that surround us, including our own clothes, hair and skin. A child crawling, for example, is at risk for coming in contact with these cancer causing chemicals as they explore their environment.
"When you come into contact with your baby, even if you're not smoking at the time, she comes in contact with those toxins. And if you breastfeed, the toxins will transfer to your baby in your breastmilk." Winickoff notes that nursing a baby if you're a smoker is still preferable to bottle-feeding, however.
The residue includes heavy metals, carcinogens and even radioactive materials that young children can get on their hands and ingest, especially if they’re crawling or playing on the floor.
Doctors and scientists have come up with the term “third-hand smoke” in order to bring public awareness to those harmful chemicals that we can't necessarily see.
It also will be important to incorporate knowledge about third-hand smoke contamination into current tobacco control campaigns, programs, and routine clinical practice.
Tobacco smoke residues are the chemicals that we smell; on your coworker who just came back from their smoke break, in car after your teenage daughter borrowed it, or in your hair two washes later after going to a smoky bar.
“Your nose isn’t lying,” [ Dr. Jonathan P. Winickoff] said. “The stuff is so toxic that your brain is telling you: ’Get away.’”
Cigarette bans around the globe have helped decrease the amount of smoking world wide. Bans are already in place in many public places: schools, office buildings, dorm rooms and cars as well as bars and restaurants. Smokers are finding it harder and harder to find a place to light up. This new awareness of third-hand smoke may be just the term needed to aid anti-smoking campaigners in the ban of smoking in your own home.
Among the substances in third-hand smoke are hydrogen cyanide, used in chemical weapons; butane, which is used in lighter fluid; toluene, found in paint thinners; arsenic; lead; carbon monoxide; and even polonium-210, the highly radioactive carcinogen that was used to murder former Russian spy Alexander V. Litvinenko in 2006. Eleven of the compounds are highly carcinogenic.
The point doctors are making is this : cigarette smoking is bad for you, for the people around you, and for those people that will occupy the space where you were. Maybe 2009 is the year to finally quit?
Most Recommended Comment
Nashville, Tennessee, United States