Smoking is bad for you. So is secondhand smoke, and our world would be much healthier without it.  You know this. And now thanks to a new Berkeley Lab study, we know that third-hand smoke is bad for you, too.

Hugo Destaillats, a chemist with the Indoor Environment Department of Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division, described it this way:

“The burning of tobacco releases nicotine in the form of a vapor that adsorbs strongly onto indoor surfaces, such as walls, floors, carpeting, drapes and furniture. Nicotine can persist on those materials for days, weeks and even months.”

And when it stays, it reacts with “ambient nitrous acids” to form things called TSNAs.

Not scared yet? Do you scoff at the harmless acronym? Think again. According to Destaillats, “TSNAs are among the most broadly acting and potent carcinogens present in unburned tobacco and tobacco smoke.”

Even worse news?  These carcinogens are most dangerous to toddlers and infants, since the biggest exposure comes from dust inhalation or physical contact with the carpet. In other words, third-hand smoke could turn your rugrats into unsuspecting labrats.

Electronic cigarettes are not safe, either, so don’t go there. There aren’t really any shortcuts. According to the article, the best way to slow the effects of third-hand smoke would be to set up  ”100 percent smoke-free environments in public places and self-restrictions in residences and automobiles.”

Hey, it could happen. We could eventually live in a smoke-free world. Just watch that commercial with all the bubbles.

Image source: Serge Melki under Creative Commons
Study reveals dangers of nicotine in third-hand smoke [Berkeley Lab News Center]

Day in the Bay :: The [X]press Blog said:
Feb 9, 2010 at 8:18 am

[...] Scientists at Cal have invented “third-hand smoke”, a way to make smokers even more environmentally culpable. [Daily Clog] [...]

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