Are you concerned about the dangers of 2nd hand smoke? Well now there’s even more reason to be concerned, 3rd hand smoke. That’s the term being used to describe the invisible yet toxic combination of gases and particles that cling to smokers’ hair and clothing, as well as cushions and carpeting, that lingers long after second-hand smoke has cleared from a room.
The residue includes heavy metals, carcinogens and radioactive materials that young children can get on their hands and ingest, especially if they’re crawling or playing on the floor. It’s not only unpleasant, it’s a health threat.
In this month’s issue of Journal Pediatrics, doctors from Mass General Hospital for Children in Boston used the term “third-hand smoke” to describe the particles that remain after visible smoke is gone, and which especially pose a risk to infants and children.
Everyone knows that second-hand smoke is bad, but they don’t know about this,” said Dr. Jonathan P. Winickoff, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.
Third-hand smoke is what one smells when a smoker gets in an elevator after going outside for a cigarette, he said, or in a hotel room where people were smoking. “Your nose isn’t lying,” he said. “The stuff is so toxic that your brain is telling you: ’Get away.’”
The study shows that any exposure to smoke has the potential to cause harm. There are carcinogens even in third-hand smoke, and they are a risk for anybody of any age who comes into contact with them.
So what is the best approach to 3rd hand smoke for parents with young children? Avoidance. If you smoke you should try to quit or smoke only outside the home.
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