by Dr. Enozia Vakil on  July 3, 2013 at 12:56 PM Health In Focus
Thirdhand Smoke Causes DNA Damage
A team of researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have revealed how Thirdhand Smoke could prove to be dangerous too, and could cause DNA damage.

Thirdhand smoke, which is basically the residual smoke left over on surfaces such as walls, floors and furniture, can be extremely dangerous to health, for many reasons.

Firstly, thirdhand smoke can't be removed by simple daily cleaning methods like wiping the furniture and floors. Secondly, thirdhand smoke also tends to linger around for several months, even after the smoker may have left the house/room.

"This is the very first study to find that thirdhand smoke is mutagenic," Berkeley Lab scientist and co-author of the study, Lara Gundel, explained. "Tobacco-specific nitrosamines, some of the chemical compounds in thirdhand smoke, are among the most potent carcinogens there are. They stay on surfaces, and when those surfaces are clothing or carpets, the danger to children is especially serious."

Using two in vitro assays- the Comet assay and the long amplicon-qPCR assay, the researchers checked for genotoxicity and discovered that thirdhand smoke was capable for causing oxidative DNA damage, which further led to gene mutation.

"Until this study, the toxicity of thirdhand smoke has not been well understood," lead investigator and biochemist at the Life Science Division of Berkeley Lab, Bo Hang said. "Thirdhand smoke has a smaller quantity of chemicals than secondhand smoke, so it's good to have experimental evidence to confirm its genotoxicity."

This study further explained the seriousness of thirdhand smoke on health, and revealed that the thirdhand smoke could become harmful over the time. "The cumulative effect of thirdhand smoke is quite significant," Gundel added. "The findings suggest the materials could be getting more toxic with time."

The researchers finally concluded that thirdhand smoke may have an important role to play in the development of many health problems, and new strategies may be required to achieve prevention of the possible health risks.

Reference : Journal Mutagenesis.

Source: Medindia

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