Thirdhand Smoke

Thirdhand Smoke: Growing Awareness of Health Hazard

We know that smoking and secondhand smoke exposure are harmful, but what about "thirdhand smoke"? This is a relatively new term used to describe the residual contamination from tobacco smoke that lingers in rooms long after smoking stops and remains on our clothes after we leave a smoky place. It may seem merely like an offensive smell, but it is also indicative of the presence of tobacco toxins.

Thirdhand smoke consists of the tobacco residue from cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products that is left behind after smoking and builds up on surfaces and furnishings. Tobacco smoke is composed of numerous types of gasses and particulate matter, including carcinogens and heavy metals, like arsenic, lead, and cyanide. Sticky, highly toxic particulates, like nicotine, can cling to walls and ceilings. Gases can be absorbed into carpets, draperies, and other upholsteries. A 2002 study found that these toxic brews can then reemit back into the air and recombine to form harmful compounds that remain at high levels long after smoking has stopped occurring.

There is a growing body of evidence that this lingering tobacco residue has significant health risks. People, especially children and hospitality industry workers, can have considerable exposure to it. As confirmed by the 2006 Surgeon General's Report, there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. And tobacco smoke toxins remain harmful even when breathed or ingested after the active smoking ends.

A study published in February 2010 found that thirdhand smoke causes the formation of carcinogens. The nicotine in tobacco smoke reacts with nitrous acid - a common component of indoor air - to form the hazardous carcinogens. Nicotine remains on surfaces for days and weeks, so the carcinogens continue to be created over time, which are then inhaled, absorbed or ingested.

Children of smokers are especially at risk of thirdhand smoke exposure and contamination because tobacco residue is noticeably present in dust throughout places where smoking has occurred. The homes, hair, clothes, and cars of smokers can have significant levels of thirdhand smoke contamination. Young children are particularly vulnerable, because they can ingest tobacco residue by putting their hands in their mouths after touching contaminated surfaces.

Awareness about thirdhand smoke is increasing, and it gained a great deal of attention in January 2009 when the journal Pediatrics published a study assessing people's beliefs about the health effects of thirdhand smoke and children's level of exposure to it. However, the report found there is much less awareness about thirdhand smoke exposure and its harm to children than there is awareness about the dangers of secondhand smoke.

The growing understanding of thirdhand smoke contamination reaffirms the need for more smokefree places and for avoiding exemptions in smokefree laws that permit smoking at private events in public places or in businesses during late evening hours; these kinds of provisions do not protect people's health.

Parents, landlords, business owners and others need to be aware of the health risks of exposure to thirdhand smoke and recognize that eliminating smoking is the only way to protect against tobacco's smoke contamination.

Even after secondhand smoke has cleared, cigarettes leave some of their toxic residue behind. Discover how University of California researchers at California's Thirdhand Smoke Consortium are investigating the problem:

Dangers of third-hand smoke highlighted
IrishHealth.com - July 29, 2014

...Until now, the risks associated with this have been unclear so UK and Spanish scientists decided to investigate further. They collected dust samples from homes occupied by smokers and non-smokers and used the most up-to-date toxicology information to...

Even 'third-hand' smoke kills
International News Network - July 19, 2014

The study demonstrated for the first time the widespread presence of tobacco related carcinogens in house dust, even in "smoke-free" environments. Scientists ...

Exposure to nitrosamines in thirdhand tobacco smoke increases cancer risk in non-smokers
Science Direct - July 17, 2014

results presented here highlight the potentially severe long-term consequences of THS exposure, particularly to children, and give strong evidence of its potential health risk and, therefore, they should be considered when developing future environmental

What's third-hand smoke? Experts warn smoking parents about danger to kids
InterAksyon - July 8, 2014

According to anti-tobacco advocates, smoking in the presence of children is a form of ... MANILA - Did you know that third-hand smoke can cause suffocation and ...

`Third-hand` ciggie smoke that clings to furniture could cause cancer
Big News Network. - May 31, 2014

Dubbed "third-hand smoke", Cancer Council Queensland said that this happens when second-hand smoke exhaled by the cigarette users reacts with indoor air ...

Third-hand smoke - residue on walls, furniture and car interiors ...
Courier Mail - May 31, 2014

It says parents need to ensure their home is totally smoke-free and any curtains, ... Health Minister Lawrence Springborg this month announced a ban on ...

Surface danger: Tobacco's effects linger long after smoke clears
nwitimes.com - April 25, 2014

On its website, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights cites a 2010 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of ...

Thirdhand smoke doesn't belong in home daycares ($$)
Imperial Valley Press - April 23, 2014

There is almost unanimous agreement about the dangers of firsthand tobacco smoke. There are few who dispute the dangers of secondhand tobacco smoke.

Thirdhand Smoke Is Real—And Risky to Your Health
National Geographic - March 20, 2014

It took decades to prove that cigarette smoking causes cancer, heart disease, and early death. It took additional years to establish that secondhand smoke also ...

Thirdhand Smoke? A clandestine health threat: The invisible remnant of tobacco smoke
Miami News Record - March 19, 2014

Another new term. First hand, the smoker, second hand the smoke. Third hand, what is left indoors on every surface by smoking. Several articles came out this week on this subject showing evidence that third hand smoke is more than just that familiar ashtray smell. It is actually the residual nicotine and other chemicals left on indoor surfaces by tobacco smoke and it is reacting to common indoor pollutants to create a toxic mix containing cancer-causing substances that can pose a potential health hazard to nonsmokers. I learned that thirdhand smoke clings to hair, skin, clothes, furniture, drapes, walls, carpets, vehicles and even dust long after smoking has stopped. Anyone may be at risk of tobacco-related health problems when they inhale, ingest or touch substances containing it. It builds up on surfaces over time and resists normal cleaning. It cant be eliminated by airing out rooms, opening windows, using fans or air conditioners or confining smoking to only certain areas of a home. Even washing walls is not very effective. Encapsulating the residue by painting over is a better idea. Furniture and carpets may need to be replaced to fully decontaminate an indoor space. However, there is evidence that using an ozone generator to reduce the ashtray smell from smoking a popular technique at hotels can actually react with thirdhand smoke to create even more dangerous chemicals. The only way to protect nonsmokers from thirdhand smoke is to create a smoke-free environments, whether that's your private home or vehicle, or in public places. "The best argument for instituting a ban on smoking indoors is actually third-hand smoke," said Bo Hang, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Major 'third-hand smoke' compound causes DNA damage -- and potentially cancer
Science Codex - March 16, 2014

Leftover cigarette smoke that clings to walls and furniture is a smelly nuisance, but now research suggests that it could pose a far more serious threat, especially to young children who put toys and other smoke-affected items into their mouths. Scientists reported today that one compound from this "third-hand smoke," which forms when second-hand smoke reacts with indoor air, damages DNA and sticks to it in a way that could potentially cause cancer. Their talk was one of more than 10,000 presentations at the 247th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society, taking place here through Thursday. Bo Hang, Ph.D., who presented the research, said that although the idea of third-hand smoke made its debut in research circles just a few years ago in 2009, evidence already strongly suggests it could threaten human health. "The best argument for instituting a ban on smoking indoors is actually third-hand smoke," said Hang, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL).

Smokers Ban Home Smoking When They See Dangers to Their Kids
Medscape - March 4, 2014

Smokers were twice as likely to strictly enforce a smoke-free home policy if they recognized the dangers posed to their children by residues left behind from smoking, according to a study published online March 3 in Pediatrics.

Study Finds That Third-hand Smoke is Deadly
Doctor Tipster - March 4, 2014

However, the dangers of smoking are not only confined to the smoker; it can also affect other people. Smoke affecting other people may be in the form of third-hand smoke the smoke, its particles and its gasesleft in the air after a cigarette is put out. These smoke particles remain in the air and in the surface of the area where someone has smokes.

New study calls smokers' rights into question
Manitou Messenger - March 4, 2014

Dr. Lowell Dale, Medical Director of Mayo Clinic Tobacco, provides a definition of thirdhand smoke and why it is such a threat. She writes, thirdhand smoke is generally considered to be residual nicotine and other chemicals left on a variety of indoor surfaces by tobacco smoke. This residue is thought to react with common indoor pollutants to create a toxic mix. This toxic mix of thirdhand smoke contains cancer-causing substances, posing a potential health hazard to nonsmokers who are exposed to it, especially children. ...

Smoke Residue on Clothes Damages Lungs Too
Men's Journal - February 19, 2014

Exposure to third-hand cigarette smoke the nasty residue that clings to clothing, carpets, and furniture is just as deadly as sucking down a cigarette. A new study found that third-hand smoke gets progressively more toxic the longer it lingers, posing a serious health hazard long after a butt has been put out...

Study raises concern about 'third-hand smoke' from E-Cigarettes
kwgn.com - February 17, 2014

New research may have E-Cigarette users think twice about using the devices. A study by researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute shows the vapors from electronic cigarettes leave behind a potentially toxic residue known as third-hand smoke.

Thirdhand smoke dangerous, UCR study finds
Highlander Newspaper - February 11, 2014

A first-of-its-kind study by UCR professor of cell biology Manuela Martins-Green indicates that exposure to thirdhand smoke may be harmful to humans. Previous studies have examined the effects of first- and secondhand smoke (FHS and SHS respectively), but the research by Martins-Green is the first to examine the effects of thirdhand smoke on animals.

Thirdhand Smoke is Dangerous, Too: Like a Virus, Nicotine Can Stick Around for Days
Smithsonian - February 4, 2014

The harmful effects of second-hand smoke have been well researched and documented, but what about third-hand smoke? Traces of nicotine linger on clothes, skin and surfaces for hours (or even days) after the smoker has extinguished her cigarette, and they have the potential to harm other people. Studies on third-hand smoke are scarce, but the more resesarch scientists compile, the more evidence points toward the potential problems third-hand smoke might cause or exacerbate, especially among children.

Thirdhand Smoke Leads To Organ Damage, Hyperactivity In Mice
Huffington Post - February 3, 2014

Thirdhand smoke, the secondhand smoke that sticks to surfaces, causes health problems in mice, a new study reveals. Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, found that thirdhand smoke leads to damage to organs in mice, as well as increased wound healing time.

Study: Third-Hand Smoke Exposure As Deadly As Smoking
CBS Local - February 3, 2014

Exposure to surfaces and objects that have been saturated in cigarette smoke, labeled as third-hand smoke, is just as deadly as smoking the cigarette itself. A new study from the University of California, Riverside finds that the third-hand smoke that has soaked into the surfaces, objects and environment around people becomes increasingly toxic over time. Third-hand smoke is defined as the second-hand smoke that is allowed to settle on objects in any environment. Non-smoking children, co-workers, spouses and friends of smokers breathe in such carcinogens left in rooms exposed to smokers.

Third-Hand Smoke - What Is It?
Information-Analytic Agency NEWS.am - February 3, 2014

Cigarettes are bad for our health. And breathing in the smoke of someone else's cigarette is nearly just as bad, Medical Daily reports. The risks now go beyond ...

Third-hand smoke may be as fatal as first-hand smoke
Free Press Journal - January 31, 2014

Washington: Third-hand smoke – tobacco residue that persist in houses, apartments and hotel rooms after smokers move out – may be just as deadly as ...

Third-hand smoke shown to cause health problems
Medical Xpress (PhysOrg.com) - January 30, 2014

...a scientist at the University of California, Riverside who, along with colleagues, conducted the first animal study of the effects of third-hand smoke. While first-hand smoke refers to the smoke inhaled by a smoker and second-hand smoke to the exhaled ...

Third-Hand Smoke Found To Pose Health Hazard For Kids
Toronto NewsFIX - November 14, 2013

Researchers have found that third-hand smoke can pose a major health hazard for children, and even adults in many cases. Third-hand smoke is something that develops on a surface after a cigarette has been put out. So if you are sitting on a couch smoking and you put the cigarette out, the residue left on the couch is third-hand smoke. It has been found that this residue, which can consist of carinogens, radioactive materials, and others, can pose a major health risk for children and adults.

Third-Hand Smoke Impacts Kids' Breathing
MedPage Today - September 12, 2013

BARCELONA -- Third-hand smoke -- residue that remains on the skin, clothes, and furniture of smokers, even if they do their smoking out of the house -- still ...

Broderick Perkins: Thirdhand smoke can reduce your home's value ...
The Salinas Californian - July 12, 2013

Research proves first- and secondhand smoke can be deadly to people who inhale it. Thirdhand smoke, a phrase coined by a research team from the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, comes with its own dangers to people. Its also hazardous to your homes value.

Dr. Cory: Toxic tobacco residue damages DNA
Inside Costa Rica - July 2, 2013

July 2nd, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) The hazards of tobacco use are making headlines once again. Researchers at the prestigious Berkeley Lab presented a new global warning on the risks of third-hand smoke. The study published in the journal Mutagenesis confirms cancer-causing toxic tobacco residues can cause significant genetic damage in human cells.

Thirdhand Smoke Can Cause DNA Damage
REDORBIT (formerly RedNova.com) - June 21, 2013

... "This is the very first study to find that thirdhand smoke is mutagenic," explained Lara Gundel, a Berkeley Lab scientist and co-author of the study. "Tobacco-specific nitrosamines, some of the chemical compounds in thirdhand smoke, are among the most ...

Heard of Thirdhand Smoke?
Athens (GA) Patch.com - May 17, 2013

Firsthand smoke is the direct inhalation of smoke from burning tobacco encased in cigarettes, pipes and cigars. The environmental tobacco smoke that is inhaled involuntarily or passively by someone who is not smoking is secondhand smoke. Did you know there is a thirdhand? … According to the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation, Athens is one of nine areas in Georgia to ban smoking in all restaurants and bars. The state's Smokefree Air Act, which went into effect in 2005, bans smoking statewide in all enclosed workplaces in Georgia, except as otherwise designated.

Smoke travels to non-smoking hotel rooms, study shows
USA TODAY - May 13, 2013

Traces of cigarette smoke "don't stay in the smoking rooms" Anyone who has ever walked into a "non-smoking" hotel room and caught the distinct odor of cigarette smoke will not be surprised by the findings of a new study: When a hotel allows smoking in any of its rooms, the smoke gets into all of its rooms, the study suggests. Nicotine residues and other chemical traces "don't stay in the smoking rooms," says Georg Matt, a psychologist from San Diego State University who led the study, published Monday in the journal Tobacco Control. "They end up in the hallways and in other rooms, including non-smoking rooms." The research comes as smoke-free hotels are becoming more common, though not as common as smoke-free bars and restaurants. Many large chains, including Marriott, Westin and Comfort Inn, have gone smoke-free and hotels must be smoke-free by law in four states and 71 cities and counties, according to the Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation. Nearly two-thirds of hotels responding to a recent survey by the American Hotel & Lodging Association said they were smoke-free, though just 39% of economy hotels said so.

Thirdhand smoke, a big health hazard
International News Network - April 2, 2013

A new study suggested that ''thirdhand smoke''- the invisible remains of cigarette smoke that deposits on carpeting, clothing, furniture and other surfaces- may be even more of a health hazard than previously thought. The study has extended the known health risks of tobacco among people who do not smoke but encounter the smoke exhaled by smokers or released by smoldering cigarette butts. Yael Dubowski and colleagues noted that thirdhand smoke is a newly recognized contributor to the health risks of tobacco and indoor air pollution. …

Studies find that toxicity caused by second-hand smoke remains long after a smoker leaves the premises
Medical Xpress - March 7, 2013

Researchers are finding that, long after a smoker leaves the premises, the toxicity caused by second-hand smoke remains and transforms into something even more deadly. Relatively new research into Third-Hand Smoke (THS) – the remnants of cigarette smoke after it has dissipated into the air – is suggesting myriad harmful effects from exposure to the dust and to surfaces that have absorbed the microscopic particles of smoke. Several of these new studies were discussed at the UC Global Health Day, Feb. 23, during a session organized by UCR Professor Manuela Martins-Green of the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience. She and fellow UC researchers presented their work on the long-lasting presence of THS toxicants in the environment and on their effects in various physiological processes including healing of wounds, function of the liver and lung, and the effects on behavior. …

Snuffing 'third-hand' smoke; Stratford Health Department sparks ...
Stratford Star - March 1, 2013

A website, SmokeStinks.org, offers information in English and Spanish about third-hand smoke, smoking cessation resources and more, and it is gaining ...

The dangers of third hand smoke
Dolphin - February 21, 2013

Smokers who step outside for a cigarette reduce cigarette smoke and its hazards indoors, but they are not completely eliminating it. Research is being conducted on the effects of third hand smoke: the smoke components remaining on a smoker’s breath, hair, clothing and surrounding items. Third hand smoke contains nicotine, carbon monoxide, toluene, formaldehyde, lead, hydrogen cyanide, radioactive components and much more. …

Third-Hand Smoke - A New Hazard To Be Aware Of
Newswire (press release) - November 11, 2012

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in the United States have discovered that third-hand smoke can be a potentially serious health hazard that can be very hard to ...

Clearing the Air of Thirdhand Smoke - UCTV Prime Cuts
YouTube – October 18, 2012

Even after the second-hand smoke has cleared, cigarettes leave some of their toxic residue behind. Discover how UC researchers at California's Thirdhand Smoke Consortium are investigating the problem …

Even Thirdhand Smoke Is Dangerous
To Your Health - September 11, 2012

As if the documented dangers of primary and secondhand smoke aren't enough to sway people from the habit, now comes research suggesting that even thirdhand smoke - defined by the Mayo Clinic as "residual nicotine and other chemicals left on a variety of indoor surfaces by tobacco smoke" can be harmful. …

Scientists: Third Hand Smoke Also a Danger
OzarksFirst.com - August 8, 2012

Now scientists are finding third hand smoke can be dangerous too. ... take the smoking outside, where the air is less concentrated and the smoke fumes are not ...

Thirdhand smoke poses health risk
ABC 57 News - August 7, 2012

Secondhand smoke was already thought to be dangerous. But now scientists are saying that third-hand smoke also poses a health risk. Thirdhand smoke is the fumes that come off someone who has been smoking somewhere else. Scientists are finding that the fumes can have a negative impact on our health, especially in children. …

Scientists warn of third-hand smoke
WTVR - August 7, 2012

(WTVR) – The American Lung Association says that third hand smoke, the smoke that clings to your clothes and hair after you finish smoking a cigarette, can be ...

Invisible health villain for children: Thirdhand smoke
Philadelphia Inquirer - July 18, 2012

As reported in the journal Pediatrics ("Beliefs about the Health Effects of Thirdhand Smoke and Home Smoking Bans," 2009), 95.4 percent of nonsmokers and ...

VIDEO: Dangers of third-hand smoke
WJLA-TV Ch. 7 (Washington, DC), 2012-03-27

Venkat Murphy knows firsthand the health hazards of cigarette smoke. Just smelling it on someone's clothes or in a room can trigger an asthma attack. ...

Third-hand threats: Nicotine and nitrosamines found in dust in homes of smokers and non-smokers
separationsNOW.com - Dec 28, 2011

Whereas second-hand smoke is a well-known risk for non-smokers, especially indoors, a lesser known route is third-hand smoke, represented by the ...

Study: Third-hand smoke can endanger unborn babies
News 10NBC - April 22, 2011

A new study finds just traces of cigarette smoke left on furniture and clothing can endanger the lungs of unborn babies. These lingering toxins from tobacco are called third-hand smoke which researchers say can be just as harmful as secondhand or even ...

'Thirdhand smoke' leaves long-lasting toxins
abc7.com - April 21, 2011

With a young child at home, Chien is well aware of the health risks of smoking, but he's shocked about another danger that's hidden. Scientists call it "thirdhand smoke." "From what I hear so far, thirdhand smoke could be just as devastating to you as ...

Study Finds Thirdhand Smoke Poses Danger To Unborn Babies' Lungs
Medical News TODAY(UK), 2011-04-19
Source: LA BioMed

Stepping outside to smoke a cigarette may not be enough to protect the lungs and life of a pregnant woman's unborn child, according to a new study in the American Journal of Physiology.

The study, by researchers at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA BioMed), found prenatal exposure to toxic components of a newly recognized category of tobacco smoke--known as thirdhand smoke--can have as serious or an even more negative impact on an infants' lung development as postnatal or childhood exposure to smoke. Thirdhand smoke is the newly formed toxins from tobacco smoke that remain on furniture, in cars, on clothing and on other surfaces--long after smokers have finished their cigarettes.

"Thirdhand smoke is a stealth toxin because it lingers on the surfaces in the homes, hotel rooms, casinos and cars used by smokers where children, the elderly and other vulnerable people may be exposed to the toxicants without realizing the dangers," said Virender Rehan, MD, a principal investigator at LA BioMed and corresponding author of the study. "Pregnant women should avoid homes and other places where thirdhand smoke is likely to be found to protect their unborn children against the potential damage these toxins can cause to the developing infants' lungs. ...

Babies who sleep with smoker parents exhibit high nicotine levels
ScienceBlog.com (blog) - March 29, 2011

"Third-hand smoke" stuck to skin or clothing is responsible for the high nicotine levels seen in babies who share a bedroom with their smoker parents. This is the conclusion of a study carried out in Catalonia, which also shows that ventilating bedrooms is not effective in reducing the levels of toxins from passive smoking ...

VIDEO: The Hidden Danger of Third-Hand Smoke (03:15)
CBS New York - Ch. 2, 2011-02-16
Maurice DuBois

Well you’ve heard the warnings about smoking and secondhand smoke…

Getting it thirdhand
Reno News & Review - Kat Kerlin - February 10, 2011

It’s common knowledge that smoking is bad for smokers. That’d be firsthand smoke. It’s also generally acknowledged that it’s harmful for nonsmokers to be around somebody smoking. That’s secondhand smoke. Now comes thirdhand smoke: the gases, particles and nicotine left on clothes, hair, and lingering in the air long after the smoker has crushed the cigarette. It, too, may be bad for us.

Environmental Health Perspectives describes how, in 1991, researchers found nicotine in the dust of smokers’ homes. Not surprising. Then, in 2004, they found it in the dust of people’s homes when no one had smoked there for three months. There was more of it in places like the living room, far less in places like an infant’s room, where parents didn’t smoke. But even when residents took their smoking outside, traces of nicotine could be found in the house. The only place nicotine wasn’t found in the dust was in homes where no one had ever smoked. A 2008 study found similar results in cars, where even a year-long smoking ban in a car in which cigarettes were formerly smoked was not enough to rid it of nicotine.

Now, researchers find that thirdhand smoke (THS) lingers after smokers move out of their homes, “even after being vacant for two months and being prepared for new residents, sometimes with new carpeting and paint,” the study describes ...

Third-hand smoke is dangerous, especially for crawling babies
TheMedGuru - Neelam Goswami - January 13, 2011

The hazardous effects of cigarette smoking on the human body are well known. Even it is well documented that longtime exposure to secondhand smoke can harm human health in many ways.

The invisible remains of cigarette smoke that deposit on carpeting, clothing, furniture, and other surfaces are called third-hand smoking.

Third-hand smoke poses health risk
A new study is cautioning about the health hazards of 'third-hand smoke'--the tobacco smoke contamination that remains after the cigarette has been extinguished.

The study, which was conducted at the Israel Institute of Technology, suggests that residues from cigarette smoke that linger on fabrics, papers, carpets, and other surfaces pose a larger health hazard than previously understood.

Published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, the study findings suggest that the so-called third-hand smoke augments the risk of respiratory illnesses among non-smokers.

Study details
To find out if third hand smoke affects human health, scientists from Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel, examined the interactions between nicotine and indoor air on a variety of different materials, including cellulose (a component of wood furniture), cotton, and paper to simulate typical indoor surfaces.

The researchers found that the nicotine interacting with ozone, in indoor air and other surfaces, creates even more health hazards from third-hand smoke than previously believed, especially for young children who are more likely to be crawling on floors and carpets and place objects in their mouth. ...

'Thirdhand Smoke' a Lingering Problem
JoinTogether.org - January 5, 2011

A new study found the chemical by-products of tobacco smoke cling to the air and surfaces of smokers' homes long after they've moved out, msnbc.com reported Dec. 16.

Researchers at San Diego State University led by psychology professor Georg Matt, Ph.D., analyzed the homes of 100 smokers and 50 nonsmokers for chemical smoking residue just before the residents completed a planned move. Two months later, they re-measured air and surface nicotine in the homes that had been rented or sold to nonsmokers, and checked the fingerprints of the new residents for nicotine.

They also analyzed urine samples of the youngest new inhabitants for cotinine, a nicotine metabolite.

Although the homes had been thoroughly cleaned, including painting and carpet replacement in many cases, nonsmokers living in the homes of former smokers had seven to eight times more nicotine on their fingertips than those who moved into nonsmoker homes, and urine cotinine levels were three to five times higher in their children.

Overall, air and surface nicotine was 30 to 150 times higher in the homes formerly occupied by smokers compared with homes formerly occupied by nonsmokers.

Smoke-related chemical residues, referred to as thirdhand smoke, "hang around for months after a smoker has left," said Matt. "While there was considerably less in homes once an active smoker moved out, there was still 10 to 20 percent of what was found while the smoker still lived there."

Such homes are "reservoirs of tobacco smoke pollutants," creating a source for involuntary tobacco exposure to those who move into them, the authors said. ...

Another reason to quit smoking: third-hand smoke
The Fort Gordon Signal - November 5, 2010

Tobacco smoke has added a new potential danger to its list of hazards: third-hand smoke. The term was coined in a study published in the medical journal, “Pediatrics,” to describe the interaction of tobacco smoke with indoor surfaces.

Most people know that first-hand smoke is inhaled directly by a smoker and second-hand smoke is the smoke passively breathed in by people near someone smoking. Researchers have determined that third-hand smoke is the residue left on surfaces from second-hand smoke. The pungent scent of smoke that lingers in enclosed spaces long after a cigarette has been extinguished gives away the presence of third-hand smoke.

Parents often smoke when their children are out of the house to try to reduce second-hand smoke exposure. They also turn on fans to ventilate the room and let down a window in a car to dissipate cigarette smoke. However, these actions do not eliminate the health hazards associated with tobacco smoke. A study published in the journal, “Tobacco Control,” found that the sticky residue from nicotine and tar can persist in carpets, furnishings, drapes, dust and on skin and clothes for several months after smoking had ceased.

New research has shown that residual nicotine reacts with a common air pollutant, nitrous acid, which is a combustion product generated with the use of gas-powered appliances and vehicle engines. The nicotine and nitrous acid combine to form more carcinogenic compounds. These small particles can enter the body either through skin exposure, dust inhalation or ingestion. ...

Residual tobacco smoke in used cars: futile efforts and persistent pollutants
Nicotine and Tobacco Research, 2010-08-30

Methods: Surface wipe, air, and dust samples were collected in used cars sold by nonsmokers (n = 40) and smokers (n = 87) and analyzed for nicotine. . . .

Discussion: Findings suggest that smokers can prevent their cars from becoming contaminated with residual TSP by reducing or ceasing smoking; however, commonly used cleaning and ventilation methods did not successfully decrease contamination levels. Disclosure requirements and smoke-free certifications could help protect buyers of used cars and empower them to request nonsmoking environments or a discount on cars that have been smoked in previously. …

Determination of Volatile Organic Compounds for a Systematic Evaluation of Third-hand Smoking.
Ueta, I.; Saito, Y.; Teraoka, K.; Miura, T.; Jinno, K.
Analytical Sciences. May 2010, 26(5): 569-574.

Third-hand smoking was quantitatively evaluated with a polymer-packed sample preparation needle and subsequent gas chromatography–mass spectroscopy analysis. The extraction needle was prepared with polymeric particles as the extraction medium, and successful extraction of typical gaseous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) was accomplished with the extraction needle. For an evaluation of this new cigarette hazard, several types of clothing fabrics were exposed to sidestream smoke, and the smoking-related VOCs evaporated from the fabrics to the environmental air were preconcentrated with the extraction needle. Smoking-related VOCs in smokers’ breath were also measured using the extraction needle, and the effect of the breath VOCs on third-hand smoking pollution was evaluated. The results demonstrated that a trace amount of smoking-related VOCs was successfully determined by the proposed method. The adsorption and desorption behaviors of smoking-related VOCs were clearly different for each fabric material, and the time variations of these VOCs concentrations were quantitatively evaluated.

The VOCs in the smokers’ breath were clearly higher than that of nonsmokers’; however, the results suggested that no significant effect of the smokers’ breath on the potential pollution occurred in the typical life space. The method was further applied to the determination of the actual third-hand smoking pollution in an automobile, and a future possibility of the proposed method to the analysis of trace amounts of VOCs in environmental air samples was suggested.

Carcinogens form from third-hand smoke
ScienceDaily, 2010-02-09

Nicotine in third-hand smoke, the residue from tobacco smoke that clings to virtually all surfaces long after a cigarette has been extinguished, reacts with the common indoor air pollutant nitrous acid to produce dangerous carcinogens. This new potential health hazard was revealed in a multi-institutional study led by researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).

"The burning of tobacco releases nicotine in the form of a vapor that adsorbs strongly onto indoor surfaces, such as walls, floors, carpeting, drapes and furniture. Nicotine can persist on those materials for days, weeks and even months. Our study shows that when this residual nicotine reacts with ambient nitrous acid it forms carcinogenic tobacco-specific nitrosamines or TSNAs," says Hugo Destaillats, a chemist with the Indoor Environment Department of Berkeley Lab's Environmental Energy Technologies Division. "TSNAs are among the most broadly acting and potent carcinogens present in unburned tobacco and tobacco smoke."

Destaillats is the corresponding author of a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Co-authoring the PNAS paper with Destaillats were Mohamad Sleiman, Lara Gundel and Brett Singer, all with Berkeley Lab's Indoor Environment Department, plus James Pankow with Portland State University, and Peyton Jacob with the University of California, San Francisco. ...

Formation of carcinogens indoors by surface-mediated reactions of nicotine with nitrous acid, leading to potential thirdhand smoke hazards
Mohamad Sleiman, Lara A. Gundel, James F. Pankow, Peyton Jacob III, Brett C. Singer, and Hugo Destaillats,
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [Epub ahead of print], February 8, 2010.

This study shows that residual nicotine from tobacco smoke sorbed to indoor surfaces reacts with ambient nitrous acid (HONO) to form carcinogenic tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs). Substantial levels of TSNAs were measured on surfaces inside a smoker’s vehicle. Laboratory experiments using cellulose as a model indoor material yielded a >10-fold increase of surface-bound TSNAs when sorbed secondhand smoke was exposed to 60 ppbv HONO for 3 hours. In both cases we identified 1-(N-methyl-N-nitrosamino)- 1-(3-pyridinyl)-4-butanal, a TSNA absent in freshly emitted tobacco smoke, as the major product. The potent carcinogens 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridinyl)-1-butanone and N-nitroso nornicotine were also detected. Time-course measurements revealed fast TSNA formation, with up to 0.4% conversion of nicotine. Given the rapid sorption and persistence of high levels of nicotine on indoor surfaces­including clothing and human skin­ this recently identified process represents an unappreciated health hazard through dermal exposure, dust inhalation, and ingestion. These findings raise concerns about exposures to the tobacco smoke residue that has been recently dubbed “thirdhand smoke.” Our work highlights the importance of reactions at indoor interfaces, particularly those involving amines and NOx/HONO cycling, with potential health impacts.

A New Cigarette Hazard - 'Third-Hand Smoke'
New York Times, January 1, 2009

Parents who smoke often open a window or turn on a fan to clear the air for their children, but experts now have identified a related threat to children's health that isn't as easy to get rid of: third-hand smoke.

That's the term being used to describe the invisible yet toxic brew of gases and particles clinging to smokers' hair and clothing, not to mention cushions and carpeting that lingers long after second-hand smoke has cleared from a room. 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 from MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston coined the term "third-hand smoke" to describe these chemicals in a new study that focused on the risks they pose to infants and children. The study was published in this month's issue of the journal Pediatrics…

What is third-hand smoke? Is it hazardous?
Researchers warn cigarette dangers may be even more far-reaching
By Coco Ballantyne, Scientific American, January 6, 2009

Ever take a whiff of a smoker's hair and feel faint from the pungent scent of cigarette smoke? Or perhaps you have stepped into an elevator and wondered why it smells like someone has lit up when there is not a smoker in sight. Welcome to the world of third-hand smoke.

"Third-hand smoke is tobacco smoke contamination that remains after the cigarette has been extinguished," says Jonathan Winickoff, a pediatrician at the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center in Boston and author of a study on the new phenomenon published in the journal Pediatrics. According to the study, a large number of people, particularly smokers, have no idea that third-hand smoke-the cocktail of toxins that linger in carpets, sofas, clothes and other materials hours or even days after a cigarette is put out-is a health hazard for infants and children. Of the 1,500 smokers and nonsmokers Winickoff surveyed, the vast majority agreed that second-hand smoke is dangerous. But when asked whether they agreed with the statement, "Breathing air in a room today where people smoked yesterday can harm the health of infants and children," only 65 percent of nonsmokers and 43 percent of smokers answered "yes."

"Third-hand smoke," a term coined by Winickoff's research team, is a relatively new concept but one that has worried researchers and nonsmokers for several years. "The third-hand smoke idea-concern over that-has been around for a long time. It's only recently been given a name and studied," says Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco. "The level of toxicity in cigarette smoke is just astronomical when compared to other environmental toxins [such as particles found in automobile exhaust]," he adds, but notes that he is not aware of any studies directly linking third-hand smoke to disease [as opposed to second-hand smoke, which has been associated with disease].

News | Related Research
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