What is third-hand smoke?
Third-hand smoke is the left-over nicotine and other chemicals from cigarette smoke that clings to indoor surfaces such as walls, carpets, curtains, furniture and even toys. If smoking occurs in a home, building or car, the residual third-hand smoke builds up and is difficult to remove, persisting for months or even years. The chemicals can absorb onto surfaces within 10 minutes of a cigarette being smoked indoors and can be re-emitted into the air over time. Even in homes where smoking only occurs outside, third-hand smoke contamination can occur because of smoke drift from the outside and residual smoke coming from the lungs of smokers after they have had a cigarette. It can also enter the home on contaminated clothing, skin or dust.
What are the dangers of third-hand smoke?
Third-hand smoke is a fairly new concept and its dangers are still being researched. There are particular concerns about it being harmful to the developing brains of babies and children. Third-hand smoke contains some cancer-causing toxins not found in second-hand smoke that are created when nicotine combines with nitrous acid in the air. Unlike second-hand smoke, third-hand smoke can also be ingested and absorbed through the skin. Children and pets have more contact with third-hand smoke because they spend more time on the floor close to contaminated carpets, rugs and other objects. They also tend to be in close contact with smoking adults whose hair, skin and clothes can be covered in third-hand smoke.
How can you get rid of third-hand smoke?
Third-hand smoke can’t be removed by opening windows, using air conditioners or airing rooms. Contaminated surfaces need to be regularly cleaned and washed. If smoking is going to continue in the household or car, it is recommended that the build-up of household dust is kept to a minimum by frequent vacuuming of all soft furnishing and floors, and dusting and mopping all hard surfaces. Keep the surfaces you touch often as clean as possible. However, the best way to keep a home free of third-hand smoke is to quit smoking and make your home smoke-free.
How can you prevent third-hand smoke?
Not allowing smoking in or near your home or car will prevent some second-hand smoke from accumulating. But, if you smoke, you will still bring third-hand smoke into your home via your skin and clothes. So quitting smoking is the only way to completely protect against third-hand smoke.
Benefits of quitting smoking
The body is very good at healing itself. If you quit smoking, you will quickly see the benefit to your health. Over time, your risk of lung disease, cancer, and many other serious illnesses will be much lower than if you kept smoking.
Visit the ‘Recovery’ page so see what happens to your body when you quit smoking.
Your finances will also improve dramatically if you quit smoking. Check out the smoking costs calculator to see how much you could save.
For other reasons to quit smoking visit the ‘Why should I quit?’ page.
Think you are too old to benefit from quitting smoking? Think again. Quitting smoking at any age will increase your life expectancy and improve your quality of life.