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Thursday, October 6, 2011

The New Danger of Thirdhand Smoke: Why Passive Smoking Does Not Stop at Secondhand Smoke

"Passive smoking exposure is a topic of great concern for public health because of its well-known adverse effects on human health (International Agency for Research on Cancer 2004). Two news articles on this topic were published in the February 2011 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives (Burton 2011; Lubick 2011). Lubick (2011) discussed the global health burden of secondhand smoke, and Burton (2011)emphasized a new and alarming consequence of 
smoking in indoor environments—“thirdhand smoke”—a term first coined in 2006 (Szabo 2006).

"Thirdhand smoke is a complex phenomenon resulting from residual tobacco smoke pollutants that adhere to the clothing and hair of smokers and to surfaces, furnishings, and dust in indoor environments. These pollutants persist long after the clearing of secondhand smoke. They are reemitted into the gas phase or react with oxidants or other compounds present in the environment to form secondary contaminants, some of which are carcinogenic or otherwise toxic for human health (Matt et al. 2011). Thus, thirdhand smoke exposure consists of unintentional intake (mainly through inhalation but also via ingestion and dermal routes) of tobacco smoke and other related chemicals that occurs in the absence of concurrent smoking. Exposure can even take place long after smoking has ceased, through close contact with smokers and in indoor environments in which tobacco is regularly smoked.

Citation: Protano C, Vitali M 2011. The New Danger of Thirdhand Smoke: Why Passive Smoking Does Not Stop at Secondhand Smoke. Environ Health Perspect 119:a422-a422.

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