Smoking is definitely injurious to your health and may cause a series of severe health problems. Ever since you have come to know about cigarettes and smoking, everyone around you has been telling you how it can affect you in the long run.
So, what do you do?
You start avoiding cigarettes. You keep remembering how cigarettes can be bad for you and do not try one even all of your friends keep forcing you. Then all of a sudden, you come to know about secondhand smoke.
You realize that avoiding cigarettes cannot save you from trouble. You must even learn to avoid the company of smokers as the smoke coming from their cigarettes can harm you, sometimes even more than it harms them. Is that enough too?
Let’s suppose that you are a non-smoker and do not live with anyone who smokes. One day, as you are crossing the street, you are forced to get stuck behind a person who is puffing a cigarette and you tell yourself that you have a minimal exposure to this smoke so it is all okay.
The new research, however, disagrees with you. A new scientific study has found that firsthand and secondhand smoke may not be the only agents causing various health problems. These two factors are also not sufficient to eliminate the risk of acquiring any health risks completely.
Even a person who tries his best to avoid getting exposed to visible smoke coming from cigarettes can be exposed to tiny but potentially harmful particles known as “thirdhand smoke”.
This research has been carried out by the scientists at the Drexel University who have identified the presence of thirdhand smoke in a classroom setting which has been unoccupied with no smoking environment.
The researchers examined the aerosol composition inside this classroom and concluded that almost 29 percent of the particles present in the air were linked with the residue of the thirdhand smoke.
It was later declared that the particles supposedly entered this nonsmoking environment through the ventilation system. The research suggested a totally new way through which humans can get exposed to chemicals generated by burning tobacco.
What do You Mean by Thirdhand Smoke?
Thirdhand smoke refers to the residual smoke that has been left behind on various surfaces or even clothes long after both primary and secondary smoke has vanished.
The concept introduced by the researchers in this study is not new, however, thirdhand smoke has been associated mostly with dermal exposure i.e. from touching surfaces that have been contaminated with tobacco smoke.
The chemicals present in the cigarette smoke have a tendency to get stuck to various surfaces such as the walls, floors, carpets, clothing, furniture items and various other locations that the scientists are yet to identify.
However, one of these mediums recently acknowledged by the researchers happens to be air.
The reality, according to the scientists, is that there are a lot of places where the particles of thirdhand smoke may be present, so it becomes really difficult for the people to avoid it altogether.
How can Thirdhand Smoke Affect Your Health?
According to some preliminary studies, thirdhand smoke seems to have harmful effects on health when tested in the laboratory. However, researchers have not yet evaluated it on humans.
Research has indicated that mice that get exposed to thirdhand smoke usually develop liver damage. Some of them observe a change in their blood levels of glucose and insulin; a change which is usually similar to that observed in a diabetic patient.
Other studies have concluded that thirdhand smoke increases the risk in these mice for thrombosis-based diseases. Moreover, it also puts them at a higher oxidative stress. This is what eventually contributes to the development of fatty liver.
Can thirdhand smoke be associated with any respiratory disorder such as asthma, or an even dangerous condition like lung cancer? Scientists are still unsure.
However, the scientists seem to be pretty clear that secondhand smoke does lead to certain problems such as COPD and asthma, and even cause ear infections and sinusitis in little kids.
It has taken the medical experts decades to develop a complete understanding regarding the dangers and risks of secondhand smoke. It is quite possible that getting exposed to thirdhand smoke on a long-term basis may cause similar health problems.
Researchers belonging to the California Consortium for Thirdhand Smoke at the University of California suggest that some of the most common problems that people relate to thirdhand smoke include eye irritation, nasal stuffiness, and other symptoms of an allergic attack.
How to Protect Yourself
By now, you must be clear that thirdhand smoke has a tendency to cause health problems. Which health problems can it cause and to what extent? Scientists have no answer to these questions.
In such a situation where we are not even aware of the consequences that thirdhand smoke might bring, it is better to protect yourself from it as much as possible. But how can you do that?
The first line of defense against thirdhand smoke is conventional. You must never start smoking or quit it immediately if you are already a smoker. Thirdhand smoke can be found in the houses and vehicles of the people who smoke even if they don’t smoke in their homes and cars.
When you quit smoking and clean your house, car, and other possessions that may harbor harmful particles, you are reducing your exposure to thirdhand smoke to a great extent.
If you have recently been to a restaurant, café, or a party where people around you were constantly smoking, it is best to wash your hair and clothes thoroughly as soon as you get home. This is because these two areas are the best sites for smoke particles to occupy for a long time.
Children are exposed to thirdhand smoke to a great extent. This is particularly true for those who still crawl on the floor and put their hands in their mouth after it. This could be really harmful to a child who is in his potential years of growth and care must be taken to avoid his exposure to thirdhand smoke by keeping the floors clean.