Third-hand smoke: Another reason to quit smoking

Need another reason to add "Quit Smoking" to your New Year's resolutions list? How about the fact that even if you choose to smoke outside of your home or only smoke in your home when your children are not there - thinking that you're keeping them away from second-hand smoke - you're still exposing them to toxins? In the January issue of Pediatrics, researchers at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) and colleagues across the country describe how tobacco smoke contamination lingers even after a cigarette is extinguished - a phenomenon they define as "third-hand" smoke. Their study is the first to examine adult attitudes about the health risks to children of third-hand smoke and how those beliefs may relate to rules about smoking in their homes.

"When you smoke - anyplace - toxic particulate matter from tobacco smoke gets into your hair and clothing," says lead study author, Jonathan Winickoff, MD, MPH, assistant director of the MGHfC Center for Child and Adolescent Health Policy. "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.

Particulate matter from tobacco smoke has been proven toxic. According to the National Toxicology Program, these 250 poisonous gases, chemicals, and metals include hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, butane, ammonia, toluene (found in paint thinners), arsenic, lead, chromium (used to make steel), cadmium (used to make batteries), and polonium-210 (highly radioactive carcinogen). Eleven of the compounds are classified as Group 1 carcinogens, the most dangerous.

Small children are especially susceptible to third-hand smoke exposure because they can inhale near, crawl and play on, or touch and mouth contaminated surfaces. Third-hand smoke can remain indoors even long after the smoking has stopped. Similar to low-level lead exposure, low levels of tobacco particulates have been associated with cognitive deficits among children, and the higher the exposure level, the lower the reading score. These findings underscore the possibility that even extremely low levels of these compounds may be neurotoxic and, according to the researchers, justify restricting all smoking in indoor areas inhabited by children.

"The dangers of third-hand smoke are very real," says Winickoff, who is a professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Richmond Center. "Our goal was to find out if people who were aware of these harmful effects were less likely to smoke inside of their home."

Winickoff's team found that this was the case. In a survey of more than 1,500 households, 95.4 percent of nonsmokers versus 84.1 percent of smokers agreed that second-hand smoke harms the health of children, and 65.2 percent of nonsmokers versus 43.3 percent of smokers believed that third-hand smoke harms children. Strict rules prohibiting smoke in the home were more prevalent among nonsmokers - 88.4 percent versus 26.7 percent - but among both smokers and non-smokers, participants who agreed that environmental smoke was harmful to children's health were more likely to have restrictions on smoking in their homes.

Winickoff's study shows that increasing awareness of how third-hand smoke harms the health of children may encourage home smoking bans. It also will be important to incorporate knowledge about third-hand smoke contamination into current tobacco control campaigns, programs, and routine clinical practice.

For more information on increasing awareness of the hazards of second- and third-hand smoke to prevent smoking and encourage smoking bans in the home, visit www.ceasetobacco.org , a website founded by Winickoff.

Source: Massachusetts General Hospital


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Dec 29, 2008
The anti-smoking lobby is equally clueless and obnoxious.

http://www.npr.or...98004872

Dec 29, 2008
In order to avoid ALL environmental toxins, from any source whatsoever including those naturally produced that are thousands of times more carcinogenic than tobacco smoke, the solution is simple:

Stop breathing altogether.

Dec 29, 2008
Toxins are toxins. If any other product produced the menagerie of carcinogens that tobacco smoke produces it would be banned immediately.

Dec 30, 2008
I don't think you realize that the "harmful" carcinogens in tobacco smoke are mirrored in most products we use. For instance, most household appliances release agent orange when burned.


No it doesn't. You're probably thinking of dioxins, one of the nastier pollutants found in agent orange, but that's not agent orange itself.

And would you mind telling me just who these people intentionally burning PVC plastic in or near their own home are so I can stay the hell away from them?

RFC
Dec 30, 2008
Researchers with an agenda? Ha! Just because this study documents yet another bad effect of smoking?

"Regularly cleaning your house"... yeah, that does the trick! That's why apartments have to be repainted and carpets treated after smokers live in them to kill the smell.... and oftentimes that doesn't do it.

And let's group exposure to second or third hand smoke with all other airborne toxins, because the comparison is just SO similar.

This study says something pretty simple (for those of you that read it). Exposing babies to the crap that smoking leaves behind is bad. That's a big fat "Duh!" in my book. There's no agenda, there isn't even a counter-intuitive result.

For those of you that disagree, go ahead and wrap your babies up in the blankets you keep in the same closet as your smoke-soaked coats and jackets. They'll be fine. Honest.


RFC
Dec 30, 2008
Researchers with an agenda? Ha! Just because this study documents yet another bad effect of smoking?

"Regularly cleaning your house"... yeah, that does the trick! That's why apartments have to be repainted and carpets treated after smokers live in them to kill the smell.... and oftentimes that doesn't do it.

And let's group exposure to second or third hand smoke with all other airborne toxins, because the comparison is just SO similar.

This study says something pretty simple (for those of you that read it). Exposing babies to the crap that smoking leaves behind is bad. That's a big fat "Duh!" in my book. There's no agenda, there isn't even a counter-intuitive result.

For those of you that disagree, go ahead and wrap your babies up in the blankets you keep in the same closet as your smoke-soaked coats and jackets. They'll be fine. Honest.



Dec 30, 2008
"Third hand smoke"???

Vilifying something by giving it a new name? Add in the 'children' aspect as a propaganda ploy and you know that the health Nazis are out in force.

Dec 31, 2008
When will they study the effects that car pollution has on kiddies? Oh wait, no-one is gonna pay for that since everybody drives and the elite aren't ready for electric cars yet.

Jan 04, 2009
Stress is the biggest danger of all. There are more books about stress in circulation worldwide than there are bibles in circulation. I hope the authors of this "helpful" study are pleased with the level of increase in stress that they have achieved, and congratulations...you increased the stress levels in smokers and non-smokers alike.

Jan 04, 2009
Some people find the risks associated with smoking and the social pressures of smoking too stressful. Those people choose not to smoke. Some people find the pleasure of smoking outweighs the risks and find the relief from stress provided by smoking keeps social pressures at bay. They find smoking relaxes while maintaining intensity in the same way that a good cup of coffee does. Those people choose to continue to smoke. Guess how difference your study will make to either group?

Mud
Jan 04, 2009
It is the concentration of smoke and what it leaves behind in the confined area of a home that is the cause for concern. If you have a child with high risks for problems caused by smoke then YOU should be concerned. My mother died at age 47 (I was 19) because she chose to smoke to relieve STRESS. She developed gangrene in both legs and spent six weeks dying in a hospital while enduring six operations to remove her legs - piecemeal. She also lost the OPTION of smoking to relieve her STRESS. Hospitals do not allow smoking in intensive care. She was very sorry she was never able to stop smoking. Unfortunately, it was too late for her. She could not stop when she was carrying me. When I was born I had constant ear and throat infections. Bronchitis and sinusitis became a chronic part of my life. Then I developed asthma. Before age 50 I was on PERMANENT SS disability. Thank you, Mom, RIP. I watch COUNTLESS children going through similar lives to mine. Why? Because selfish parents can't comprehend that years & years of daily smoke build-up by thousands of cigarettes, cigars, etc. are NOT the same as short-lived, short-term exposure to other things mentioned I've read here. The only odor that I have smelled CONSISTANTLY on children on a regular basis is smoke from a household of a person or persons who delude themselves that it is ok to do so. If, as a parent, you are ok with your child smelling like the inside of an ashtray and breathing the same, day after day, then why not just spread some arsenic or spray some DDT in your home and make it easier on all of us. Anyone dying because someone smoked is a slow, painful, UNNECESSARY death. Just ask the son of the late Mrs. Reeves. I can and do sympathize with him. May some of you learn that stress is a part of life, get over your selfish selves and stop ingesting that which harms you and others. I wish everyone the best.

Jan 04, 2009
Some people find the risks associated with smoking and the social pressures of smoking too stressful. Those people choose not to smoke. Some people find the pleasure of smoking outweighs the risks and find the relief from stress provided by smoking keeps social pressures at bay. They find smoking relaxes while maintaining intensity in the same way that a good cup of coffee does. Those people choose to continue to smoke. Guess how much difference your study will make to either group?


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