third-hand smoke

Third-Hand Smoke is as Bad as Smoking

By Anupum Pant

Yes, third-hand smoke (THS)! I knew there was second-hand smoke that someone standing near a smoker could inhale and get affected, but never knew there was third-hand smoke. The worst part about it – It is as deadly as smoking a cigarette and effectively affects everybody, irrespective of your proximity to the smoker and his smoke.

So, if you are a non-smoker and the next time someone tells you that their smoking habit is none of your business, you need to tell them, actually it is. The third hand smoke is killing even the non-smokers.

What is third-hand smoke?

Since smoke is nothing but a collection of several tiny particles floating in air, it can get trapped in things like cloth fibers, hair and surfaces. This is the reason you always get that whiff of burning cigarette once a smoker without his cigarette enters a relatively clean room. It stays there, on clothes and objects, for a long time, even after the cigarette has been extinguished and is called third-hand smoke.

Interesting studies

1. Recently, researchers at University of California Riverside decided to study the deadly effects of third-hand smoke. They did the study on mice, exposed them to the kind of exposure normal human beings have to THS. Significant damage to livers and lungs of mice was recorded.

2. Last year, Lara Gundel, a scientist from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, published a study on the effects of THS on Human DNA. Scientists exposed paper strips to cigarette smoke for 258 hours and ventilated air for 35 hours. After this, they exposed the compounds collected in that paper to human cells in petri dishes. It showed that THS can cause harm and mutation in Human DNA cells. It doesn’t stop at that. The potential to cause problems by THS can increase with time.

How it affects you

The thing about third-hand smoke that should worry you the most is, almost everyone comes in contact with it; at home, work, restaurants, bars, shops, etc… It is not like second-hand smoke where you have to inhale the smoke to get affected (equally deadly).

  • Smoke from cigarettes can collect over time on the walls and objects of a room; layer upon layer of carcinogenic compounds!
  • Cars, due to their small sizes and a lot of fibrous material inside can be the worst THS affected areas.
  • Someone smoking in some other room with a fan turned on can send a significant amount of particulates your way. These things can travel far, keep collecting in your room and can potentially affect every body.
  • Children and infants are the worst affected. As they touch objects and put things in their mouths, their tender developing brains can get affected by this more than adults (infants experience about 20 times greater effects)
  • Watch out for smoke rooms. You shouldn’t have a reason to go with your smoker friends in there.


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