Harmful Effects of Third Hand Smoke

As a smoker, I am sure you are aware about first and second hand smoke, but have you heard about the harmful effect of third hand smoke? If you are looking for one more reason to quit smoking, here you have it.

Researchers at Mass General Hospital for Children in Boston published their findings in the January issue of Pediatrics.

What are the harmful effects of third hand smoke and the definition of third hand smoke?

It is the smell that you smell from a smoker who comes near you after they come back from a smoke.
The smell that hits you when you enter a room where smokers have just finished smoking. It’s in that lingering smell…

Third hand smoke is the term coined to describe the invisible and toxic gases and particles hanging onto smokers’ hair, clothing, cushion, curtains, carpet long after second hand smoke has left the room. 

So if you think that you are not smoking:

  • In the presence of your children.
  • In the car when your children or other non smokers are not with you.
  • Putting them in the back seat while you smoke with the windows down.

You think that by doing so, they are safe from second hand smoke, wrong, you are still exposing them to toxins from third hand smoke long after the smoke has gone.

Infants and toddlers, crawling, learning to walk and explore are most vulnerable to this third hand smoke exposure because they can crawl, play on, touch, lick and suck on those contaminated surfaces.

What are the Harmful Effects of Third Hand Smoke?

The toxic gases and particles left behind from cigarette smoke 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.
Studies have shown that tiny levels of exposure to lead are linked to lower IQ.

Risks arising for exposure to third hand smoke is different for adults and children.

The developing brains of children are susceptible to very low level of toxins. Infants and toddlers are closer to those surfaces where toxin from third hand smoke have deposited. They also have the tendency to put things into their mouth, especially teething infants.

Smokers who think that opening a window, turning on a fan, smoking when their children are not in the room will clear the air for them, erase those thoughts! With these findings on third hand smoke, it’s best to take your smoking out of the house and far away. Or stop altogether.

Is this that one more reason to quit smoking that will spur you to take steps in quitting? You will have to weigh the consequences and decide for yourself. Take a look at the hidden cost of smoking and benefits of quitting smoking here.

If you are a parent and reading this, do you want to expose your children to the harmful effects of third hand smoke? Remember, it’s you who’s responsible for bringing your child to this world in the first place. As a parent, you can only do so much for them in our lifetime because you are not going to be around to take care of them forever.