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Thirdhand smoke: What are the dangers to nonsmokers?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/third-hand-smoke/AN01985
- With Mayo Clinic internist
Lowell Dale, M.D.read biographyclose window
Lowell Dale, M.D.Lowell Dale, M.D.
Dr. Lowell Dale is the medical director of Mayo Clinic Tobacco Quitline and an associate professor of medicine at College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minn. Dr. Dale is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, and he has been an internal medicine consultant at Mayo since 1985.
As a consultant in the Division of Primary Care Internal Medicine, Dr. Dale has served on various divisional committees, including the Administrative Committee, Education Committee, Personnel Committee and Long Range Planning Committee.
Dr. Dale is an accomplished author on treatment, health professional education and research issues related to tobacco use and dependence. He has contributed to numerous medical journals, including Mayo Clinic Proceedings, the Journal of General Internal Medicine, Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics and the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Dr. Dale received his B.A. degree from Augsburg College in Minneapolis and his M.D. degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School.
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Thirdhand smoke: What are the dangers to nonsmokers?
What is thirdhand smoke, and why is it a concern?
from Lowell Dale, M.D.
Thirdhand smoke is generally considered to be residual nicotine and other chemicals left on a variety of indoor surfaces by tobacco smoke. This residue is thought to react with common indoor pollutants to create a toxic mix. This toxic mix of thirdhand smoke contains cancer-causing substances, posing a potential health hazard to nonsmokers who are exposed to it, especially children.
Studies show that thirdhand smoke clings to hair, skin, clothes, furniture, drapes, walls, bedding, carpets, dust, vehicles and other surfaces, even long after smoking has stopped. Infants, children and nonsmoking adults may be at risk of tobacco-related health problems when they inhale, ingest or touch substances containing thirdhand smoke. Thirdhand smoke is a relatively new concept, and researchers are still studying its possible dangers.
Thirdhand smoke residue builds up on surfaces over time and resists normal cleaning. Thirdhand smoke can't be eliminated by airing out rooms, opening windows, using fans or air conditioners, or confining smoking to only certain areas of a home. Thirdhand smoke remains long after smoking has stopped. In contrast, secondhand smoke is the smoke and other airborne products that come from being close to burning tobacco products, such as cigarettes.
The only way to protect nonsmokers from thirdhand smoke is to create a smoke-free environment, whether that's your private home or vehicle, or in public places, such as hotels and restaurants.Next question
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- How tobacco smoke causes disease: The biology and behavioral basis for smoking-attributable disease. A report of the Surgeon General. http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/tobaccosmoke/report/executivesummary.pdf. Accessed June 6, 2011.
- Sleiman M, et al. Formation of carcinogens indoors by surface-mediated reactions of nicotine with nitrous acid, leading to potential thirdhand smoke hazards. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2010;107:6576.
- Dreyfuss JH. Thirdhand smoke identified as potent, enduring carcinogen. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2010;60:203.
- Kuschner W., et al. Electronic cigarettes and thirdhand tobacco smoke: Two emerging health care challenges for the primary care provider. International Journal of General Medicine. 2011;4:115.
- Tuma RS. Thirdhand smoke: Studies multiply, catchy name raises awareness. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2010;102:1004.
- Dale LC (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 20, 2011.