Third Hand Smoke

A US study says third hand smoke, which is tobacco residue clinging to surfaces, is also bad for you.

Smokers at many international airports are always seen taking advantage of the airport's smoking area. Well, when you smoke a cigarette, nicotine is released in the air and condenses on indoor surfaces such as walls, carpeting, drapes and furniture, where it can linger for months.

This happens because nicotine is released in the form of a vapor. This study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

"Our study shows that when this residual nicotine reacts with ambient nitrous acid it forms carcinogenic tobacco-specific nitrosamines, or TSNAs," said Hugo Destaillats, a corresponding author of the study.

"TSNAs are among the most broadly acting and potent carcinogens present in unburned tobacco and tobacco smoke," he said.

You can expose yourself to TSNAs through either inhalation of dust or the contact of skin with carpet or clothes. This makes third-hand smoke particularly dangerous to infants and toddlers who are always touching everything.

This study also shows that opening a window while driving or turning on a fan to air out a room while smoking does not eliminate the hazard of third hand smoke. Smoking outdoors doesn't help much either.

"Smoking outside is better than smoking indoors but nicotine residues will stick to a smoker's skin and clothing," said Lara Gundel, a co-author of the study.

"Those residues follow a smoker back inside and get spread everywhere. The biggest risk is to young children," she said.

"Dermal uptake of the nicotine through a child's skin is likely to occur when the smoker returns and if nitrous acid is in the air, which it usually is, then TSNAs will be formed."

Researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory led the study, which they say is the first to quantify the reactions of third-hand smoke with nitrous acid.

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Second Hand Smoke