Thirdhand Smoke

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What is thirdhand smoke?

  1. Pollutants from tobacco smoke that:1
    • Remain on surfaces long after tobacco smoke has cleared.
    • Re-emit back into the air.
    • React with other chemicals in the environment to create more pollutants.

Where is thirdhand smoke found?

  1. In vehicles and homes  where smoking has occurred.1
  2. In homes where people have smoked, even after cleaning, painting, and carpeting.1,2

How does thirdhand smoke affect health?

  1. THS contains cancer-causing agents.3
  2. THS can cause learning problems in children, affecting reading and math.4

Who is most at risk from thirdhand smoke?

  1. Small children are exposed when they play on carpets, where THS accumulates.2
  2. Because infants often put objects in their mouths, they consume twice as much dust as adults, increasing THS exposure.4

How can thirdhand smoke be prevented?

  1. Make your car and home 100% smoke-free.
  2. Ask about the smoke-free policy before you rent and past smoking in the property before you buy.
  3. Avoid housing, motel rooms, cars, and other spaces used by smokers.

Can thirdhand smoke be removed?

  1. THS can be removed from hard surfaces by washing with an acidic solution such as vinegar.5
  2. It is virtually impossible to remove THS from carpets, walls, upholstery, and other porous surfaces.5

1. Burton, A. (2011). Does the smoke ever really clear? Thirdhand smoke exposure raises new concerns. Environmental Health Perspectives, 119, 71-74.

2. Matt GE, Quintana PJ, Zakarian JM, et al. (2011). When smokers move out and non-smokers move in: residential thirdhand smoke pollution and exposure. Tobacco Control, 20(1):e1.

3. Sleiman M, Gundel LA, Pankow JF, Jacob P, 3rd, Singer BC, Destaillats H. (2010). 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, 107(15):6576-6581.

4. Yolton K, Dietrich K, Auinger P, Lanphear B, Hornung R. (2005). Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and cognitive abilities among U.S. children and adolescents. Environmental Health Perspectives, 113(1), 98-103.

5. Dreyfuss, J. H. (2010). Thirdhand smoke identified as a potent, enduring carcinogen. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 60(4), 203-204.