DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd.
Indoor Air Quality and Environmental Experts

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Cigarette butt with ash, isolatedBy today’s standards, exclaiming that smoking cigarettes is harmful to your health is met with a “tell me something I don’t know” response. It’s actually hard to imagine that, not too long ago, researchers were tirelessly working to prove that such was the case. Today, we’re very well aware that both cigarette smoke and the secondhand smoke breathed in by surrounding non-smokers can cause cancer, among many other health issues.

But what is thirdhand smoke? A relatively new concept, thirdhand smoke refers to the smoke that lingers long after the actual cigarette smoking has been completed. You know that smell that persists within our clothes, hair, furniture and pretty much anything else that the smoke comes into contact with? That thirdhand smoke can be responsible for such health issues as asthma attacks and allergic reactions.

As reported by Susan Brink of National Geographic, “researchers now know that residual tobacco smoke, dubbed thirdhand smoke, combines with indoor pollutants such as ozone and nitrous acid to create new compounds. Thirdhand smoke mixes and settles with dust, drifts down to carpeting and furniture surfaces, and makes its way deep into the porous material in paneling and drywall.”

How can thirdhand smoke affects us? Brink writes when the after effects of smoke linger in the hair, skin, clothing and fingernails of a smoker, it can come into contact with those surrounding that person. “The new compounds are difficult to clean up, have a long life of their own, and many may be carcinogenic,” she informs us, “One of those compounds, a tobacco-specific nitrosamine known as NNA, damages DNA and could potentially cause cancer.”

Is thirdhand smoke really that dangerous? According to a CTV News report, studies have found that thirdhand smoke can be just has harmful as secondhand smoke. Thirdhand smoke accumulates on surfaces throughout the home and attaches itself to dust, which can progressively become more toxic over time. Not only does thirdhand smoke produce long-lasting foul odours, but it significantly worsens indoor air quality.

CTV News points to a University of California study that observed the effects of thirdhand smoke on mice. “For six months, the mice lived in ventilated cages containing materials that had been exposed to second-hand smoke,” they explain, “Manuela Martins-Green, a professor of cell biology who led the study, says at the end of the six months, her team found significant damage in the mice’s livers and lungs, such as higher fat levels in their livers.”

How can we get rid of thirdhand smoke? A thorough cleanup of your home will certainly help. Brink quotes Bo Hang, a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California as saying that such remedies as repainting rooms, replacing carpets and cleaning up ventilation systems may be in order to remove the harmful effects of thirdhand smoke from a home. And naturally, no indoor smoking should be made a strict rule.

At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we are well aware of the harmful effects of cigarette smoking. In fact, there is nothing worse that a person can do for his/her indoor air quality than to smoke inside the home. Our Air Quality Services work to detect all sources of indoor contaminants in an effort to improve your indoor air quality. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email info@dftechnical.ca.

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