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The Harm Caused by Thirdhand Smoke

Everyone knows that smoking harms your health. Most people are also aware of the damage that secondhand smoke — breathing in other people’s smoke — can cause. But have you heard of thirdhand smoke?

You can be exposed to thirdhand smoke without ever seeing a person smoke, or even being in the same room with a smoker. Thirdhand smoke is the smoke residue left behind by a smoker on clothing, in cars, in homes, on furniture, in bars or in any place where that person has smoked.

Studies have shown that thirdhand smoke can affect children’s breathing and can more than double the risk for respiratory tract infections in children up to age 13. In these studies, parents claimed to have only ever smoked outside. Instances of children’s wheezing also doubled in these cases.

Indoor ventilation removes about half of the residue released from a cigarette. The remaining residue is a layer of tar, oil and waxy carcinogenic compounds that accumulate on skin, clothing or furniture. A San Diego State University study found that nicotine persists in a house, even after it is cleaned, painted and recarpeted. Children are typically exposed to twice the amount of residue as adults, since they play on the floor and put things in their mouths.

The residue contains formaldehyde, benzene and arsenic, along with tobacco-specific N-nitrosamines, a compound that causes lung cancer and becomes more potent over time.

As more information about thirdhand smoke comes out, many multifamily residences are declaring themselves 100-percent smoke-free, along with more hospitals, employers, and even the state of Maine’s entire public housing program.

Prim Law Firm PLLC represents clients in cases involving lung cancer in West Virginia, and our clients owe no fees unless we are successful in recovering compensation on their behalf.

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