Thirdhand smoke puts kids' health at risk, studies find

Thirdhand smoke puts kids' health at risk, studies find

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Thirdhand smoke is the tobacco residue that sticks to furniture, walls, clothing, and people's bodies after someone smokes. It's the reason you can smell tobacco in the homes and on the skin and breath of smokers, even when they're not actually smoking or if they smoke outside.

These thirdhand smoke pollutants can linger for months. They're especially toxic to children and to babies, whose lungs are still developing and who tend to spend a lot of time indoors.

Two studies published earlier this year add to evidence that thirdhand smoke poses a serious danger to kids. In one small study published in the journal Tobacco Control, researchers at the University of Cincinnati detected high levels of nicotine on the hands of 25 young children who lived with parents who smoked. Most of the children also had nicotine in their saliva.

The researchers concluded that the kids picked up the nicotine from touching objects contaminated with smoke particles, and became further exposed by putting their hands in their mouths.

"Parents may think that not smoking around their child is enough, but this is not the case," researcher Melinda Mahabee-Gittens said in a statement following preliminary release of the results. "These findings emphasize that the only safe way to protect children from smoke exposure is to quit smoking and ban smoking in the home."

In a much larger study, published in Pediatrics, Mahabee-Gittens and her team investigated the impacts of secondhand and thirdhand smoke exposure on more than 7,000 nonsmoking teenagers. They found that teens exposed to smoking at home – even if nobody smoked in their presence or inside their house – were more likely than nonexposed teens to report shortness of breath, difficulty with exercise, and a dry cough at night. They were also up to three times more likely to visit the emergency room because of health problems.

If you're concerned about thirdhand smoke contamination in your home, check out these ideas for protecting your baby from smoke exposure. If you're struggling to quit smoking, this article has six tips for keeping cigarettes at bay.

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Watch the video: Flash Video - Smoking Harms Your Body (May 2022).

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