Scientists are warning about the danger that comes from smoking cigarettes, they're calling it thirdhand smoke. While people may not smoke cigarettes directly, or be around smokers to receive secondhand smoke, they can still be susceptible to come in contact with the chemical residue from cigarette smoke.
Scientists want to spread the word for people to have more caution when smoking cigarettes.
What Is Thirdhand Smoke?
A new study published in the journal Science Advances shows the real dangers of thirdhand smoke. Thirdhand smoke is the chemical residue that are left on clothing, furniture, and other surfaces from tobacco smoke. The study shows that these chemicals can then become airborne and circulate around a building.
Despite the indoor smoking bans, this study shows that toxic chemicals from cigarette smoke are pervasive. Studies have shown that these chemicals can be absorbed through the skin, ingested, or inhaled months or years after the smoke is gone.
The study shows how outdoor tobacco smoke can find its way into a nonsmoking classroom and rest on surfaces. These same chemicals can then get swept back into the air and be ventilated throughout a building. Researchers measured the particles entering the classroom by using an aerosol mass spectrometer.
Researchers found that in a classroom where smoke hasn't been allowed, 29 percent of the entire indoor aerosol mass contained thirdhand smoke chemicals. Smoking had not been allowed in the classroom in at least 20 to 25 years. The classroom's location may have played a role in the measurements, it is located 20 meters down the hall from a balcony where people like to smoke and near an office area where smokers work.
Thirdhand Smoke Experiment
Startled by the findings, scientists then simulated thirdhand smoke exposure in a lab. They ran an experiment in which cigarette smoke was pumped into a Pyrex container, then ran outdoor air into it until the secondhand smoke was clear.
They let the outdoor air sit in the container for one day and then measured the change. Researchers found a 13 percent increase in thirdhand smoke chemicals. This showed them how pervasive cigarette chemicals can be despite no longer being able to seen.
Researchers say that the chemicals that aren't inhaled in thirdhand smoke stick to surface until they can be reintegrated into the air later. These chemicals are present in the spaces where people work and go to school. Scientists for the study only looked at office buildings and classrooms which are well-ventilated, they say that even more thirdhand chemicals could be found in places such as hotel rooms and cars.