"Thirdhand smoke" may be even more of a health hazard than previously thought, a new study has said. This is one that is the invisible remains of cigarette smoke that deposits on carpeting, clothing, furniture and other surfaces.
The study has extended the known health risks of tobacco among people who do not smoke but encounter the smoke exhaled by smokers or released by smoldering cigarette butts.
Yael Dubowski and colleagues noted that thirdhand smoke is a newly recognized contributor to the health risks of tobacco and indoor air pollution.
Studies show that that nicotine in thirdhand smoke can react with the ozone in indoor air and surfaces like clothing and furniture, to form other pollutants. Exposure to them can occur to babies crawling on the carpet, people napping on the sofa, or people eating food tainted by thirdhand smoke.
In an effort to learn more about thirdhand smoke, the scientists studied interactions between nicotine and indoor air on a variety of different materials, including cellulose (a component of wood furniture), cotton, and paper to simulate typical indoor surfaces.
They found that nicotine interacts with ozone, in indoor air, to form potentially toxic pollutants on these surfaces.
"Given the toxicity of some of the identified products and that small particles may contribute to adverse health effects, the present study indicates that exposure to [thirdhand smoke] may pose additional health risks," noted the article.
The findings were published in ACS journal, Environmental Science and Technology.