Thirdhand smoke -- the noxious residue that clings to virtually all surfaces long after the secondhand smoke from a cigarette has cleared out -- causes significant genetic damage in human cells!
This is the findings of a study led by researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
“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,” said Lara Gundel, co-author of the study.
The study also found that chronic exposure is worse than acute exposure, with the chemical compounds in samples exposed to chronic thirdhand smoke existing in higher concentrations and causing more DNA damage than samples exposed to acute thirdhand smoke, suggesting that the residue becomes more harmful over time.
Thirdhand smoke is extremely difficult to eradicate. Studies have found that it can still be detected in dust and surfaces of apartments more than two months after smokers moved out. Common cleaning methods such as vacuuming, wiping and ventilation have not proven effective in lowering nicotine contamination.
The above story is based on the June 23, 2013 news release by DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. http://www.lbl.gov/
This paper was published in the journal Mutagenesis:
Hang B, Sarker AH, Havel C, Saha S, Hazra TK, Schick S, Jacob P 3rd, Rehan VK, Chenna A, Sharan D, Sleiman M, Destaillats H, Gundel LA. Thirdhand smoke causes DNA damage in human cells. Mutagenesis. 2013 Jul;28(4):381-91. doi: 10.1093/mutage/get013.
* Nitrosamines - when nicotine in thirdhand smoke reacts with nitrous acid it undergoes a chemical transformation and forms carcinogenic tobacco-specific nitrosamines, such as NNA, NNK and NNN. Nicotine can react with ozone to form ultrafine particles, which can carry harmful chemicals and pass through human tissue. Humans can be exposed to thirdhand smoke through inhalation, ingestion or skin contact.