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'Third-Hand Smoke' Could Be Troublesome, Too
Date:2/8/2010

orldwide. "It was in the 1980s that we began understanding the effects of second-hand smoke. And the idea of third-hand smoke has been around for the past decade but only recently assigned a name. And now the research is beginning to look at not only the fact that it exists, but what are the health effects going to be."

The notion that smoke residue would interact with common indoor chemicals to give rise to a third tier of carcinogenic compounds has "biological plausibility," Glynn said. Such a post-smoking cocktail, he said, could ultimately include chemicals found in lighter fluid, paint thinners and car exhaust as well as radioactive substances and chemical weaponry.

"But we don't really know yet for sure," he cautioned. "It's still open to question. We can't yet say what finally falls on the furniture and the rugs and the car runners. But there's every reason to expect that third-hand smoke would contain such chemicals."

The American Cancer Society, he said, "certainly applauds any research that explores what could end up being a significant hazard to one's health."

More information

The American Cancer Society has answers to questions about smoking, tobacco and health.



SOURCES: Hugo Destaillats, Ph.D., chemist, indoor environment department, environmental energy technologies division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, Calif.; Thomas J. Glynn, Ph.D., director, cancer science and trends, and director, international cancer control, American Cancer Society, Washington, D.C.; Feb. 8, 2010, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online


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