Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Third-hand Cigarette Smoke

New things are being discovered everyday. Smoking which used to be hip and groovy some decades ago is no longer encouraged when found that it is bad for health. We even found that second-hand smoke is hazardous to people who do not smoke but who are exposed to the cigarette fumes. Now, scientists have discovered something called third-hand smoke.

What is third-hand smoke? According to the New York Times, it is the invisible yet toxic brew of gases and particles clinging to smokers’ hair and clothing, not to mention cushions and carpeting, that lingers long after second-hand smoke has cleared from a room. The residue includes heavy metals, carcinogens and even radioactive materials that young children can get on their hands and ingest, especially if they’re crawling or playing on the floor.

Third-hand smoke is what one smells when a smoker gets in an elevator after going outside for a cigarette, or in a hotel room where people were smoking. -- Now, this is close to home as the elevators in my office buildings are sometimes wreaked with cigarette smell from clothes of people who have just come in from the smoking area.

Why is third-hand smoke bad for health? Among the substances found in third-hand smoke are hydrogen cyanide, used in chemical weapons; butane, which is used in lighter fluid; toluene, found in paint thinners; arsenic; lead; carbon monoxide; and even polonium-210, the highly radioactive carcinogen that was used to murder former Russian spy Alexander V. Litvinenko in 2006. Eleven of the compounds are highly carcinogenic.

Source: New York Times

Related articles:
Chicago Tribune: Experts warn of the dangers of "thirdhand" smoke
Science Daily: Third-hand Smoke: Another Reason To Quit Smoking
MSNBC: Third-Hand Smoke Lingers on Hair and Clothing


  1. Anonymous10:15 PM

    Smoking has no health benefits and it certainly isn't cool...period. When will people realize this truth??
    It's the substance that controls them and not the other way around.

  2. We (humans) are a daring bunch, wouldn't you say? Dare to be different, dare to take risks. Maybe it's the risk-benefit ratio kicking in - if you have a reason, that would outweigh any potential risks. What am I saying?! Anyway, the general consensus is, smoking is bad for health.

  3. First time I hear of third hand smoke!

  4. New term for a new discovery. One that will make more people aware of the dangers of smoking and the effect it has on people around you - mostly people you care about - your family and your friends.