What is thirdhand smoke?
That was the question running through my head this morning in a meeting about smoke-free workplaces. I mean, second hand smoke sure– that’s the leftover in the air that comes with a long list of health hazards. But then where do you go from there? Does a smoker have to cough in your direction?
Thirdhand smoke, I was told, isn’t really smoke at all. It’s the residue left on fingers, clothes, and even the hair of smokers. The residue is laced with toxins and carcinogens normally found in cigarettes and can combine with other household pollutants to form even worse compounds.
Thirdhand smoke residue also poses a unique threat to children. While skin contact with these toxins is bad enough, many younger kids are wont to mouth affected objects. No bueno.
After a bit of googling I found out that thirdhand smoke is more prevalent than I thought.
So that nasty smell left on your fingers after a cigarette? Thirdhand smoke.
How about the unmistakable aroma of a hotel’s smoking section? You betcha.
And the yellow ceiling in your pipe-loving grandpa’s bedroom room? Oh yeah. All toxic thirdhand smoke.
The more you know.