Third-hand smoke is the aroma that clings to clothing, furniture, and other fabrics long after a cigarette has been put out. Although many considerate smokers try to roll down the car window, or blow smoke in the opposite direction of family and friends, the toxins of third-hand smoke continue to create a danger. Whenever smoke can be smelled, health risks are present.

Dangerous Toxins

Cigarette smoke contains 250 toxins, along with at least 60 carcinogens. There is no level of cigarette smoke exposure, no matter how small, that can be regarded as safe. Turning on a fan or opening a window does not prevent the dangers of third-hand smoke toxins. Dangerous ingredients found in third-hand smoke include:

  • Cyanide
  • Lead
  • Butane
  • Arsenic
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Polonium-210

Infants and Children

Third-hand smoke poses a greater a risk for infants and children than for adults. Babies—who often crawl close to carpets, are held against their parents’ clothing, and love putting everything in their mouths—will have the highest exposure to third-hand smoke. Meanwhile young children typically breathe in twice as much dust as adults because of a faster respiratory system and a closer proximity to floors and other surfaces.

Children exposed to third-hand smoke tend to show a decrease in their IQ levels, along with other obstacles in brain development. Some researchers suggest a link between third-hand smoke and sudden infant death syndrome. Another risk is the carcinogens found in cigarette smoke, which could potentially cause cancer for anyone of any age.

Parents should become especially aware of the dangers of cigarettes. If you plan to continue smoking, consider making your home and car a smoke-free zone. Try not to wear clothing that smells of cigarette smoke when holding or coming in close contact with your children.

At North Hills Hospital, we are committed to the health of you and your family, which is why we are a smoke-free campus, including all of our parking lots. If you have questions about exposure to smoke or any other health issues, please contact us. We can help you find just the right pediatrician or family doctor in North Richland Hills or throughout Northeast Tarrant County.


New York Times

Scientific American

Related Posts:

What’s an Electronic Cigarette?

Why We’re a Smoke-free Campus