After the smoke clears, danger still lurks

After the smoke clears, danger still lurks


Thirdhand smoke is what you smell when you
go into a hotel room where people have been smoking or what rubs off on your skin when
you touch a wall or if you visit somebody’s house and they’ve been smoking. So, that means
it’s not only in the air but it’s also coming out of surfaces. So, thirdhand smoke is the
residue in tobacco smoking that is in a building after people have smoked.
We call it the three R’s. It remains. It doesn’t go away. It reacts with other chemicals in
the environment and it also will be able to come back off whatever it stuck to usually
at a lower concentration. Studies have shown that even if an adult or
parent smoke only outdoors, their children have higher levels of exposure to smoke compounds,
probably from what sticks to their skin and their hands that they bring indoors and expose
their children to. I was studying the research that the tobacco
industry had done about the toxicity of second hand cigarette smoke and one particular piece
of research it did was they emitted smoke into a room and they looked at what happened
to it. It turned out that the nicotine stuck to the
walls, but not only that it would be sucked up by materials like wall board that we use
commonly in this country and it would be really hard to get out, but it would diffuse out
along with other compounds in the smoke. That led to the interest of the Tobacco Related
Disease Research Program and finding out what the health effects might be to exposure to
what we now call third hand smoke. One of the things that we’re going to do at
Berkeley Lab is to try to understand how third hand smoke moves around in an actual room
and also understand how much is sucked up by building materials. We’re also looking
at the composition of third hand smoke residues in more detail.
When you’re living in a smoke contaminated space you’re completely immersed in it. One
of the things that really interests me is how it allows a lot of the ideas and paradigms
of outdoor air pollution research to come indoors.

One thought on “After the smoke clears, danger still lurks

  1. Interesting. I only just found out about this, but I've no doubt about the findings concerning third-hand smoke (it's easy to see smoke from cigarettes leaves behind stains so it's not hard to make the leap that there would be harmful things in the stains themselves). However good luck trying to convince my mother (who is a smoker) that this is inherently dangerous. She already feels like she's being personally attacked and treated like a sub-class citizen for being forced to smoke in designated areas, not to mention according to her, "they haven't proven smoking causes cancer."

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