Third-Hand Smoke - What Is It?

February 3, 2014  16:01

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 that, one study argues, as the toxins left behind on surfaces and objects can grow deadly over time in what researchers call, “third-hand smoke.”

"We studied, on mice, the effects of third-hand smoke on several organ systems under conditions that simulated third-hand smoke exposure of humans," said Manuela Martins-Green, study leader and professor of cell biology at UC Riverside, in a statement. "We found significant damage occurs in the liver and lung. Wounds in these mice took longer to heal. Further, these mice displayed hyperactivity."

We all intuitively understand the effects of third-hand smoke. Smokers’ houses are notoriously yellowed, their carpets and drapes tinged with the after-effects of lingering smoke. But until Martins-Green and her colleagues did their current research, that data wasn’t available.

The team found damage in mice’s liver, lungs, and skin, along with impaired neurological function.

"There is still much to learn about the specific mechanisms by which cigarette smoke residues harm nonsmokers, but that there is such an effect is now clear,” Martins-Green said, adding that children who grow up in homes where secondhand and third-hand smoke are abundant miss 40 percent more days of school than children in nonsmoking homes.


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